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Opinion

Bridging Housing Deficit In Nigeria

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By Alex Enemanna

Housing is one of the most pressing needs of man. Standing in-between food and clothing, shelter is also a must-have even in the domain of lesser animals, just like they need food, like human to live. Apart from the critical role housing plays in man’s existence, it helps in his security and giving him a sense of self esteem.

Interestingly, irrespective of our social and economic status, we all need roof over our heads after the day’s activities. The low status of a man in the society does not make the need for a decent housing less important.

However, Nigeria is still miles away from attaining sufficiency in housing for all, just like food shortage has for long been a social challenge.

According to World Bank 2014 collection of development indicators, about 50.2% of our people still live in slums and unplanned settlements with its huge psychological and health effects caused by inaccessibility of social amenities. This is even as insignificant percentage live in debauchery and affluence, with catalogue of estates in their names, making the gap between the haves and have-nots become more worrisomely visible.

This social challenge has further been protracted by the country’s uncontrolled population growth which according to World Bank 2017 report is put at 2.6% annually. Available report from Proshare indicates that the national housing deficit is in excess of 17 million units.

Not much has been done by those in authority to reasonably bridge this disturbing gap. Sadly, housing finance is at its infancy in our country. Its mortgage ratio is put at 0.5 which is grossly inadequate compared with what obtains in other climes especially South Africa where housing finance has hit 30%.

A non-governmental organization, Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa (CAHF) puts Nigeria’s home ownership rate at 24%, far lower than that of Indonesia that boasts of 84%, Kenya 73% and South Africa 56%. Not even our country’s status as the giant of Africa could come to play in remedying this deficit especially where other countries in the continent are making reasonable progress.

Mortgage finance industry in Nigeria targets mainly high income earners, not including middle and low income earners. This is also coupled with high cost of securing and registering land title in Nigeria where acquisition has now become an exclusive reserve of the rich and those whose friends are in government.

In addition to this, the slow administrative procedures, lack of access to finance and inconsistent policy of the government has remained one of the impediments towards achieving sufficiency in housing in the country.
Not so much success has been recorded in the pseudo government interventions at bridging housing deficit in the country.

The Federal Housing Authority, equivalent of Federal Housing Administration in the US which was charged with the responsibility of preparing and submitting to the government proposal for national housing programmes, development and management of real estate on both commercial and profitable basis in all states of the federation, provision of sites and services scheme for the benefit of Nigerians has been dwarfed by poor administration and corruption. Like many other interventionist plans, the Federal Housing Authority is in limbo. The schemes wherever they are found across the country are on the ‘A’ list of expensive real estates. They have been sold off to money bags who can afford upfront payment, who then place the burden of recouping their investment on the shoulders of hapless citizens.

Efforts by individuals to put in place a makeshift shelter for themselves and their family members have always been met with brute resistance from the government even when there are no plans to advance their welfare through the provision of housing. Such harsh policies are usually justified with excuses that they are attempting to distort the government’s masterplan. In Abuja for instance, regular demolition of the so called illegal structures has become a recurrent decimal. The period of the current Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufa’i as the FCT minister recorded the mother of all careless demolitions of people’s homes in the name of maintaining a masterplan, as if the plans are being made for animals and not humans. Till date some of those displaced are either struggling to be on their feet again or joined in the catalogue of things that give us sleepless nights as a people. Some of these lands still lie fallow without any indication that there are plans to develop them anytime soon.

In as much I do not fault the government’s efforts to control development in the urban centres and restore sanity, there is need to put in place affordable housing system where even the low-income earners can have a place to live. One of the ways to achieve this is not usually by leveling people’s homes, even for vendetta and political reasons. A little regulation could be the magic wand the country needs in its efforts to make housing provision for citizens.

The high cost building materials cannot be extricated from why our dream for affordable housing for all has not been met. More worrisome, majority of the building materials used in the country are imported. This therefore makes the local production of building materials at commercial quantity very imperative. Legion of real estates in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and other cities have been overgrown by weeds and currently being occupied by rodents. This is because of their unaffordability.

It is a known fact that the government is already overburdened with barrage of issues bedeviling us and may not anytime soon bridge Nigeria’s growing housing deficit. To this end, there is the need for a robust Public Private sector Partnership arrangement. The success recorded in telecommunication, mass media and other sectors can be replicated in housing. Similar efforts failed in the past as a result of poor monitoring and evaluation by the government. This must be guarded against. The greater number of Nigerians sheltered, the better for all of us especially at a period when insecurity in the country has hit the rooftop.

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Opinion

A Salient Note To Nigerian Youths In Such A Time As This

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By Odunayo Oluwatimilehin Oyewole

It is more of a fact than a statement that COVID-19 pandemic is a reality in Nigeria. With the daily rise in figure of confirmed cases in Nigeria, I find it necessary to pen down my thoughts for the reading of vibrants, agile, skillful, artistic, articulate, and promising Nigeria youths.

I wish to get the attention of those who make themselves ready tools of terror, destruction, vandalism, kidnapping, and manipulations to the political moguls during electioneering period. Who unashamedly sell their future and conscience for a piece of cake without a second thought.

Months ago, the Nigerian border was closed against importation of rice, the masses were forced to patronize the stone garnished local rice known as ‘Nigerian Rice’. Few months later came the COVID-19, we expected the Nigerian Government to take a proactive measure of banning foreign flights from entering the country as they vehemently stood against closure of border to imported rice but the reverse was the case. The time lag it took them to decide whether or not to stop foreign flights enabled their children and other notable elites who are outside the country to come in, hence they endangered and exposed others to the COVID-19 pandemic that has no case record in Nigeria. What a selfish motive!

An average Nigerian does not have access to quality health care service, while those who employ you for nefarious activities have the means to fly out of the country for quality medical check-up’s and treatments at the lightest feeling of illness.

COVID-19 exposed the stark debilitating reality of Nigerian hospitals, few hospitals have ventilators, while others don’t have at all. The few available ones could not cater for the rising number of infected person’s within the country.

The COVID-19 testing kits donated by the Chinese Philanthropist, Jack Ma, are being used for politicians and their families, while the masses are being left to their fates. What a country!

The Nigerian educational system, most especially, the Federal Universities, where an average Nigerian parents could manage to send their children is at the brink of collapsing, little or no attention is being taken by the government to salvage it from shattering into extinction. Sadly, Academic Staff Union of Universities’ (ASUU) strike, has become a yearly anniversary for both students and lecturer’s in Nigeria as a result of unmet conditions between the ASUU and the Federal Government.

Students bear a large chunk of the brunt, as those who are meant to graduate within 4years end up wasting 2-3years extra. While the children of those who employ you as machinery for snatching ballot boxes have access to globalized quality education in well organized and developed Western countries. Hope I’m making sense?

A Nigerian Senator’s monthly running cost is #13.5million, including monthly salary of #750,000 while implementation of #30,000 minimum wage bacame an Herculean task.

Dear fellow Nigerian youths, how long shall we allow leaders who have no plans for us to continue to make us instrument of political thuggery and disruption at the detriment of our bright and promising future.

I raise a Clarion call for us to wake up from our slumbers. The future is ours, if only we are ready!

#COVID-19
#IAmAConcernedNigerianYouth
#SayNoToYouthExploitation
#IAmMega~Timmy

~ Odunayo Oluwatimilehin, OYEWOLE
A Postgraduate student, University of Ibadan

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Opinion

Beyond COVID-19 Pandemic

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By Ikechukwu Agada

If painful, purposeful activity is the steering that pilots the vehicle of existence, then passion is the fuel that keeps it moving.

As usual, the political establishment is out in full force to contain the dreaded hydra-headed novel monster called Covid-19(Coronavirus) threatening the world, signposting that sports and common challenge(Crisis) unite Nigerians faster than religion, ethnicity and the likes.

The giant of Africa is blessed with resilient and intelligent professionals with a history of patience in managing common challenges. It is therefore food for thought for her leaders why she is not one of the best nations of the world despite these virtues. The Coronavirus Pandemic is becoming a wind(Global Emergency) that is blowing across the world showing the strengths and weaknesses of nations based on leadership. It has become a yardstick for measuring great nations in terms of capacity, technology and leadership. The world as a global village is on its knees(Despite technological expertise) forcing nations to depend on itself to survive. This means that any nation that cannot help itself out of the menace is on a short distance to extinction and economic stagnation.

The virus is the same globally, it does not move, people do and when they self-isolate; it is easily contained. Online business and shopping(E-Commerce) where engagements and contactless delivery are involved ought to be promoted to encourage social distancing for the basic things of life. The approach to its containment is based on leadership and makes nations distinct. This is definitely not the time to depend on foreign imports as nations, borders and economies are under lock and key precipitating self-production and self-dependency. This is also not the best time to play politics but to show leadership to save lives. The pedestrian politics that wired out over the Coronavirus status of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Abba Kyari; where an attempt was made to conceal the information and later attempted arrest of the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control is most unfortunate. The sudden silence in the camps of the Minister of Health and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on update of information (For high profile cases) immediately following Mr Abba Kyari’s Coronavirus status speaks volume of the Nigerian tragedy.

World over, governments are not adopting politics as a way of fighting the life threatening disease. The unceremonious barring of some media houses critical of the Federal Government’s inadequacies is analogue and alien in such a time when information is key to surviving. The powerplay that engulfed Mr Abba Kyari’s Coronavirus status where some media houses were axed for breaking the news leaves a sour taste in the mouth. More heads may still go over the development.

Life is precious and should be treated as such, therefore any Nigerian irrespective of the social, political and financial status who demonstrates symptoms of this virus should be made public and isolated to save lives. If Boris Johnson and Prince Charles’ Coronavirus status could be made public then nobody in Nigeria should be treated like a sacred cow. It is criminal and medically unetiquette to hide such dangerous information from the public because of societal status.

Leadership is basically needed at this time in Nigeria to toe the path of some proactive nations that contained this Coronavirus to avoid it escalating beyond control. At a time where social distancing is Paramount, Nigerian Correctional Centres( Formerly known as Nigerian Prisons Service) should decongest inmates as part of measures to contain the spread of the virus. Under this deadly pandemic, the Correctional Service Act ought to be revisited to free some inmates in line with global standards. It is time to activate the prerogative of the mercy law across the states to effectively manage the crisis because the Nigerian Correctional Infrastructure is in a sorry state. The Correctional Service Reform on the exclusive list of the National Assembly should be treated with urgency to save many innocent inmates.

Federal and State Governments need to provide palliatives just like the Lagos State Government, to encourage Nigerians in this period of mass self-isolation to reduce the suffering of people. The National Assembly needs to review the constitution to accommodate fire disaster and disease outbreak to position Nigeria as a proactive nation before the world. The healthcare, education, emergency economic stimulus and other important welfare bills should be National Assembly Topmost considerations in its oversight functions to encourage domestic productions and discourage importation and tourism for such purposes. Time to fix the Nigerian healthcare system is now since some leaders have been cultured to travel abroad for medical tourism.

Beyond the Covid-19 Pandemic, standard social facilities, proactive leadership(Especially in containing the Coronavirus Pandemic), local production and a healthy economy will be large considerations for rating great nations. Nations will rise and some others will fall after the menace. Nigeria should view the Coronavirus Pandemic as a springboard for rebirth. The Coronavirus Pandemic too shall pass. If Nigeria succeeded Ebola, she would be victorious against the Coronavirus causing havoc around the world. Spread hope not fear!

GOD BLESS YOU

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Opinion

Making Sense Of Oshiomhole’s Reprieve

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By Abiodun Komolafe

Once upon a sociopolitical space, there was an unknown ‘Edo Boy’, who came into limelight through the Textiles Industry, where he was a paid secretary of its Union. (Conventionally, paid secretaries are never made political heads. But Adams Oshiomhole became the political head of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, which, in itself, was an anomaly). The emergence of the Iyamho, Edo State-born politician as a leader in Nigeria was aided by the society’s sociopolitical milieu. Why? A quick look should suffice.

First and foremost, the society’s worldview was laissez-faire and regrettably assuming. The ruling paradigm, then, was that man was created noble, and his inner nature was inherently good. Not only that, the uncertainty in the country’s political firmament, and the little or no skepticism as a political virtue on the part of the masses, all met at the table to foist the former governor on the hapless citizens of Nigeria. Besides, the complacency as well as the faith of the majority in a benevolent God who cares for all, thereby lessening the burden of responsibilities of good governance on governments, and the pliability of the government, under which Oshiomhole served as Labour’s first citizen, also aided his emergence as a force to be reckoned with. In other words, though regarded as NLC president, somewhere along the line, ‘Comrade’ became a tool in the hands of the government; and ‘the rest is history.’

But, how did the situation between Oshimhole and Godwin Obaseki become so messy that the latter is now calling for the former’s head? That the situation between the godfather, who practically installed the godson as his successor, to have so worsened means that something fundamental must be wrong. Again, for Obaseki’s camp to have confessed that it was only following in the footsteps of Oshiomhole clearly spoke to how he who lives in glass house must not throw stones. But, if we may ask: what gives our former governors this impression that they must continue to have a hold on the states where they have once served, if not for the reason of corruption? Why can’t they emulate Kashim Shettima, who is now at peace with himself as a former governor? Nonetheless, the feud in Edo is good for the masses, because such will always bring out the best in a democracy.

After Jimmy Carter left office as the 39th President of the United States of America, he confessed to a stunned world that, for the first time, he understood what ‘African leaders always feel when they want to leave office.’ Well, this statement might seem innocuous or harmless; but it was thought-provoking! The good thing about Carter was that he knew that he had no choice because that’s the Constitution; and Americans have a lot of respect for their Constitution! But, as far as the Africanness in us is concerned, the Constitution can go to blazes! That’s why former President Olusegun Obasanjo has the temerity to attempt a shameful 3rd Term ambition that adoringly placed a dent on what would, at least, have been an alluring legacy.

Let’s come back to the apparent lack of cohesion in the national All Progressives Congress (APC) and the notorious little foxes, such as Oshiomhole’s face-off with his state governor. Without doubt, these can spell doom for the continued success and sustenance of the ruling party, if not quickly and efficiently addressed. Yes, some forces may succeed in muscling Obaseki out of the 2nd Term race. But then, as long as Obaseki’s problem remains unsolved, Oshiomhole’s case will also remain precarious. Why? The governor is most likely to raise dust; and, if he does, that will be bad news for the party; no longer for President Muhammadu Buhari, but the party. After all, Buhari is already negotiating his way out of Aso Rock! The more reason the president must genuinely intervene now, even, when the waning nature of party supremacy in Nigeria dictates otherwise.

That’s not all! There is also an effect on the political participation profile of the masses. For instance, lack of cohesion in a political party is an indication that the party is disorganized. And, if it is, it will also yield itself to ineffective government. After all, nobody will want to put his or her faith in a party that lacks cohesion or effective organization. Not only that, discipline will become watered down, as nobody will be answerable to anybody. Talking about development, the masses are definitely going to be at the receiving end of this needless power tussle. Since needless marginalization in politics leads to economic insecurity, feeling safe, either at home or at work, will also become very difficult. Not even in a country where growing insecurity has manifestly become a diet.

This also takes us back to the issue of party formation. Though political non-participation is just the resultant effect of the disarray that we now notice in the party system, party system becomes disarrayed as a result of the faulty foundation of the party in question. In other words, if we get it wrong at the level of party formation, the likelihood of such wrongness posing perennial problems is palpably high.

All things being equal, the brawl between Oshiomhole and Obaseki could never have been in good faith! Nonetheless, a virus that tarries for too long in a man’s life has the capacity to mutate and transform into aberrant, more hostile and vicious types. What we are saying here is: as an amazing Labour leader and politician, the APC National Chairman should realize that it is time to rethink his strategy and the endgame of his political ambition. Glaringly, the reprieve granted by the appellate court remains temporary until all pending cases might have been dispensed with. We also need to note that the aggrieved and the disgruntled have the option of ‘acting nPDP’, or going back to their vomit. This may be dangerous for APC!

Well, controversy or not; provable or improvable, Oshiomhole has done his bit! Won’t his Achilles heels be the inability to leave the beat when the ovation is still ascending? On the other hand, ‘power’, they say, ‘corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ Will Obaseki learn how to ‘give honour to whom honour is due’, especially, those who once fed him? Lastly, who’s right on the Edo story and who will write the last chapter of the national APC conundrum?

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!

~Komolafe writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria. He can be reached via ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk.

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