In a move to address the housing challenge in the country, the Federal Government on wednesday approved a new national housing policy targeted at ensuring the construction of one million houses annually to augment infrastructural development in the sector.
The Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku and his Housing and Urban Development counterpart, Ms. Amma Pepple told State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Namadi Sambo that the new policy replaces the 1991 Housing Policy as well as the Urban development policy initiated in 1997.
Maku said, “For almost two decades, Nigeria has been struggling to bring up a new policy to facilitate the growth of housing provision in the country. In these two decades, we had not succeeded in getting this policy through, but the last one year has seen the ministry reaching out to all stakeholders, including the finance sector to come out with a lasting efforts to address the sector”
He noted that the failure of the moribund policies necessitated the putting together of a powerful committee to strategize the new housing policy for the country.
He said, “The new national policy came after a painstaking consultation with all the stakeholders including the organised Private Sector, the Civil Society organisations and National Economic Council. It hopes to bring about real mass housing which the country has been dreaming of.
“This policy emphasizes the central role of the private sector, while the government concentrate on its role as a regulator. We believe that when you give a man shelter, you provide him with dignity. The new policy will bring about the development of about 1million houses annually”.
Highlight of the new policy include the introduction of mass housing, intended to provide houses for Nigerians irrespective of their financial status as well as social Housing policy that will make funds available for people in the informal sector as well.
The minister added: “This policy introduces a new element that this country has never witnessed before. By social housing, what it means is that every citizen counts, because it is not just for the rich, or the low income earner, but for the poorest of the poor. Indeed, it emphasizes the type of housing that will ensure that all Nigerians will have a shelter”.
On her part, Ms. Pepple disclosed that the new policy will enhance job creation, noting that it is one of the most viable source of jobs creation.
She said, “The policy, will help the country to build capacity for the sector through the establishment of skill acquisition centers each in the six geo political zones in the country. The policy also take into cognizance the need for maintenance, proper planning of the environment and the need to address the issue of urban renewal and slumps upgrade; including the establishment of infrastructures in the areas.
“Another aspect addressed by the new policy is that of disaster management. But over and above this, the policy hopes to drive employment and income generation in the country. Far more than any other sector, Housing offers more opportunities for Economic growth and the growth of the Gross Domestic Product, GDP and driving income generation and welfare of the people”.
Pepple noted that the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development is working closely with state Governors in the area of enhancing urban development.
She said, “Part of the plans is to do new cities like the new one to be established in Bwari Area council. The committee will screen those that will build houses for the federal government.
“Another high point of the new policy is contractor financing in which contractors are expected to sourcing for funds, construct houses in a partnership with the government. She announced the need for a new mortgage system.
“The draft policy was presented, telling of the efforts made to mobilize the finance and private sector to bring about massive growth in the sector. Council appreciate the ideas and work that went into the new policy which will bring about mass housing.
“The policy emphasizes the central role of the private sector financing. One million houses a year. It will introduce the element of social housing to ensure that all Nigerians have a share of the pie. It also hope to drive economic growth, GDP growth. The policy explained how it will help the drive the economy, the environment”.