— Babatunde Fashola says there is no housing deficit in Nigeria.
Unlike some European countries that have well-controlled population figures, the situation is not the same in Africa, and especially in Nigeria.
Nigeria last conducted a population census in 2006. That census was highly plagued by political interference and as such highly disputed. The figure as of 2006 was 140 million. Today, the country’s population is believed to be well above 200 million.
The country has a staggering population growth rate and with this galloping figure comes the problem of adequate housing. It is a well-known fact that one of the numerous social challenges facing Nigeria today is the housing deficit. With the dearth of data in the country, Nigeria’s exact housing deficit, as well as the country’s housing stock, are not known but what is clear is that the country has a huge housing deficit.
It is therefore most surprising, if not shocking, to hear Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola say that Nigeria has no problem of housing deficit!
Fashola stated this in his keynote address at the Concrete Ideas webinar organised by a real estate firm, Lafarge Africa Plc., recently. The theme of the webinar was ‘New Solutions to Nigeria’s Urban Housing’.
The minister said the country does not have any housing deficit problem, adding that there was no data to support the claim that Nigeria has a housing deficit of 17 or 22 million.
It was gathered that the former Lagos State governor said at the event: “Quote me, Nigeria does not have a 17-million or a 22-million housing deficit.
Can somebody please ask the Honourable Minister whether not having a 22 million housing deficit translates to not having any housing deficit at all?
It will be recalled that the same Fashola had some time in 2014 when he was governor of Lagos State under the Action Congress Party and Dr Goodluck Jonathan was the president, said that “Any serious government should be able to fix the problem of electricity in the country within six months”.
As if to expose him, when APC took over power, Fashola was saddled with the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and for four years he could not fix the problem of electricity. He has since denied saying so but Nigerians know better.
Rather than say there is no housing deficit, the minister ought to have been courageous enough to accept the fact that the problem does exist and begin to look for a way around the challenge. The first step will be to identify the problem and then search for solutions to surmount them.
Experts say some of the reasons for the housing deficit include the poverty level of the average Nigerian, stringent conditions associated with access to loans, lack of access to land mainly because of the prohibitive cost, high cost of building materials, urbanisation and poor government housing policy.
In Europe and other advanced climes, at least five out of every 10 families own their own houses because of their very flexible and encouraging mortgage arrangements but not so in Nigeria where securing assistance from mortgages houses is like the proverbial camel passing through the eyes of the needle.
The federal and state governments should begin to think seriously about constructing housing estates, particularly low cost and middle-class estates and also encourage their civil servants and other citizens to build and own their own houses if the serious housing deficit must be reduced.