Charity Nwakaudu, Abuja           

Shelter is said to be one of the primary needs of man. No man can function properly without a roof over his head. In line with this, the Housing Cooperative in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, decried the difficulties in assessing housing at the centre of power.

There is a huge housing deficit in Nigeria especially at the low and medium income range, which ought to be addressed to achieve sustainable success in delivery of affordable housing to the teeming population. There are different challenges facing delivery of affordable housing but finance is the most crucial factor, which needed to be addressed to avoid building in environments where people cannot reside.

To this end, Nigeria Integrated Social Housing (NISH) Affordable Housing Limited and Family Homes Funds last week convened the first edition of their quarterly workshop on cooperative housing in Nigeria. The event took place today at the Shehu Musa Yaradua Centre, Abuja, and was attended by representatives of cooperatives in housing in the country.

Managing Director, NISH Affordable Housing Ltd, Mr Yemi Adelakun, maintained that finance has been responsible for shortage of decent accommodation in Nigeria. He said the objectives of the workshop was to organise, empower, and acquaint cooperative leaders with the innovative cooperative housings principles and sensitise them on how to aggravate members’ equity contributions through savings schemes towards effective and sustainable delivery of affordable housings to co-operators.

He appreciated efforts of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), Family Homes Fund and Federal Government Staff   Housing Board towards the providing affordable housing for Nigerians, but insisted that more was required to meet the housing deficit in Nigeria. 

Adelakun said: “There are many challenges inhibiting the delivery of affordable housing deficit in Nigeria, and six most critical success factors are land, skilled manpower, building materials, Infrastructure, expertise and finance which is the most critical factor. Finance is in short supply and very costly. We need both construction and mortgage finance. 

“The approach is to provide construction finance without making adequate provision for off-takers’ finance for buying the completed houses from developers. That was why we have many houses in locations nobody wants to live and at prices no one could afford.

“Effective demand driven approach may provide solutions to the intractable problem of delivering affordable housing. We need to know the needs and affordability and funding sources of off-takers before commencing construction. By financing off-takers, we are indirectly financing the developers.

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“This approach will encourage developers to be competitive in price, quality and speedy delivery of affordable housing on a large scale. For sustainability, housing off-takers financing must be at single digit interest rate if we are to achieve sustainable delivery of affordable housing.

“Cooperatives in other countries like Kenya play the role of developers, financiers, guarantors, bankers, asset aggregators and managers. They are able to attract domestic and international donor and equity funds due to the volume of savings from members.

“Cooperative housing will also facilitate procurement of bankable off-takers guarantees required to attract, to Nigeria, global construction companies with proprietary technologies and finance for large scale, speedy and cost effective and efficient delivery of affordable housing. Off-takers guarantees will also eliminate sad experience of some off-takers who made payment to developers and were unable to either get their houses or retrieve their payments.”

Adelakun was optimistic that the outcome of the workshop would guide policy makers provide affordable and decent houses for Nigerians.

Managing Director, Family Homes Funds, Mr Femi Adewole, said in a country like Nigeria where close to 90 per cent of the population are living on less than $300 income housing acquisition cannot be the same and easy. He stated that there need to give some particular people other options for accessing a home and that is why the Family Homes Fund is there is assist to provide consensual financing to public and private sector developers who are promoting housing that is target on Nigerians with low income through home loans assistance.

Head of Housing, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Ebenezer Adebisi, said Nigeria needed to get more serious with the issue of housing because it is an essential need of man: “It is very difficult to assess land in Nigeria. Government should make housing delivery easy for everybody, so that we can unlock the potentials in the housing sector.

“We have delivered 500 houses to our staff and thousands are still hanging, yet to be delivered. The government institutions need to do more, the Federal Mortgage Bank has tried and FRSC has really benefited from them but they still have to do more.”

Some participants who spoke with Daily Sun expressed displeasure over the delay of housing delivery after they have met their requirements given to them while some call for the reduction of interest rate of housing funds.