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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

‘Wike Vindicates Buharists’

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By Femi Adesina

It came like a bolt out of the blue early this week, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, issued an advertisement, which went in a completely different direction compared to what he had always said of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Wike we knew was either usually crying wolf where there was none, alleging that the Federal Government wanted to kill him, or claiming that he was not answerable to the central government at Abuja in any way, or even pontificating that the President and his political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), had failed the country in diverse ways.
If not for the maturity, and the avuncular attitude of President Buhari to all state governors, it would have been easy for one to conclude that he and Wike were enemies. Forsworn ones.

There was also the then Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, who had formed a tag team with Wike in the anti-Buhari tendency. The President could have dealt with them in many ways, either overtly or covertly, but he let them be. He was a father ready to tolerate his many children, irrespective of their differing idiosyncrasies, propensities and predilections.

A couple of weeks back, the Federal Executive Council (FEC), of which President Buhari is the Chairman, had approved the refund of N148 billion to five states in the country for repair of Federal roads. They included Rivers, Cross River, Bayelsa, Ondo and Osun.

Of the five states, only Ondo and Osun belong to the APC. The other three are of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Rivers, under Wike, was particularly combative, truculent, if not at times insulting. But the President did not let that influence his decision. He did what was right, fair and just, irrespective of party affiliations, or personal inclinations.

Rivers State got the highest figure of N78.9 billion, and I remember some people asking me why the President should give such money to a governor who would call him names the next day. But that was where Wike surprised everybody. Last Monday, he issued newspaper advertisements with the title, ‘Thank You Our Dear President.’

Dear President. False? True. Was it the Printer’s Devil? Not so. The Governor boldly appended his signature to the document.

He thanked the President for approving the refund, noting: “Mr President has by this remarkable and heart-warming gesture shown not only your love for the Government and people of Rivers State, but also, demonstrated expressly that you are, indeed, a President for every State of the Federation and all Nigerians.”

False? True. Printer’s Devil? Not so. The Governor went on:
“I assure you that the Rivers State Government is willing and ever ready to cooperate and partner with the Federal Government to advance the developmental aspirations of Rivers State in particular, and our nation in general.”

On seeing the above, I am sure millions of people must have cleaned their eyes, wondering if they were reading correctly. Having satisfied themselves that there were no cataracts, they went ahead:

“I wish to, therefore, appeal to Mr President to kindly oblige us a State visit when invited, to see what we have accomplished for the State and our people with the money.”

Wike, inviting President Buhari on a State visit. False? True. Printer’s Devil? Not so. He meant every word of it, and therefore appended his signature.

Many times, I had responded as spokesman to the President, to wolf cries by the Rivers State Governor. At a point, I began to ignore such cries, just as I did to Fayose before him. Mr President simply took all the wild allegations in his strides, and continued working for the country, all parts of the country.

In January 2018, there had been vicious killings in some parts of the country. States affected were; Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Yobe, Rivers and Zamfara. The President decided to embark on sympathy and solidarity visits to the states. All the Governors were receptive, except Wike, who said the visit was a smokescreen, meant to revive the dying APC in Rivers State.

“Apart from Jesus Christ, we don’t know of anyone who has risen a dead thing. APC is a dead party in Rivers State. No matter how you fast and pray, it will never wake up, “ he had said.

Again, he declared at another time, talking of the President: “We are the only state that the Federal Government refused to pay us our money used to execute Federal projects, because I don’t go to see him in the night, and I won’t go. He is not my friend, he is not doing well…”

When about 20 people were killed on New Year Day 2018, in Omoku area of the state, and the President wanted to visit, Wike demurred. He said there were killings everyday all over the country, and it meant the President must visit every State on a daily basis.

The circle has turned fully round, and Governor Wike is inviting the President to visit. He says he’s “a President for every State of the Federation and all Nigerians.” Wonderful!

Some people say it is N78.9 billion that is working, and the Governor is clearly inebriated by that windfall. But I don’t think so. Rivers is by no means a poor state. The amount is handsome, no doubt, but the state is oil rich, and can hold her own when it comes to finances. I rather choose to believe that Governor Wike had been playing a curious kind of politics all along, and now, fairness and justice have touched him in a positive way.

“He is not my friend, he is not doing well, ‘ he had said. Now, he is calling the man “our dear President “ asking him to be “assured of our profound esteem.” Wonders, indeed, shall never end.

There are millions upon millions of us round the country, who love President Buhari, and believe in him. We are called Buharists, and we have no apologies. They abuse us, deride and malign us, at times, they even threaten us. But we remain who and what we are: Buharists. Come rain or shine.

Why do we love the President, and unconditionally too. Is he a flawless, perfect man? Does he run a perfect, flawless government? Not exactly so, and I’ve not seen any in this world. But we stand by him, through thick and thin. Like Dr Okolo Oteri Eme, one of the Buhari Amazons posted on Facebook earlier this week, “We do not support him because we like him but because he gives us solid, verifiable reasons to love him on a daily basis.”

I see a man with solid integrity, honesty, sense of accountability, in a forest of crooked, perverse people, and you ask me not to follow him? I will follow him from Benin to Beijing, from Cape to Cairo, anywhere, everywhere.

I see a man bringing enduring change to agriculture, to infrastructure; roads, rail, bridges, airports, laying a $2.8 billion gas pipeline, money he could have craftily diverted for himself and for generations unborn, and you ask me not to believe in him? #We Believe! Ask Maryam Shetty, another Buhari Amazon.

I am glad Governor Wike has now seen what we had seen long ago, some of us as far back as 1983. And he has realized that it was time to stop the kind of politics he had played all the while.

My friend, Lorenz Mba, summed it all up in a message he sent to me on Wednesday. “For those who constantly maligned PMB, and called him all sorts of unprintable names, N78.9 billion is your answer. You simply won’t give those you hate N78.9 billion. I see that this gesture has truly humbled Nyesom Wike. Politics is all about propaganda. I salute PMB for his show of maturity in all these grandstanding by Southeast and South-south politicians. Go to Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, Onitsha-Enugu, 2nd Niger Bridge today. Talk was cheap. PMB showed up. Enough of rhetoric, Biko.”

We said it that President Buhari hates no part of the country. He has come to serve, and not to be served. He is fair and equitable to all. But they said our mouths were smelling, and we should shut up. Governor Wike has now vindicated us. We are glad. We Believe!

  • Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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Opinion

‘Biafra Cannot Come Through Insults, Assaults And Shenanigans’

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By Dr Law Mefor

An Igbo adage states: why a deity starts giving much trouble, it will be shown the wood from which was carved. There are lines that are never crossed in culture and tradition, and in national life. Such red lines keep the society going and coherent. And the Igbo society is a highly organized one and imbued in deep and rich culture and tradition, of which most if not all IPOB members are part of, including their factional leader, Nnamdi Kanu. Igbo culture holds murder and its intents as the highest crime against the society and humanity.

The most recent attack is Kanu’s order to his supporters to stone Nnia Nwodo to death anywhere he is found anywhere in the world. His words: “Anywhere you see him outside, stone him to death.” Kanu further called on God to “destroy Ohanaeze”. Turning round to blame Nnia Nwodo for herdsmen atrocities in the South East or Operation Python Dance is just a case of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it and psychologically, a misplaced aggression and priority. .

Nnamdi Kanu has been attacking Ohanaeze Ndigbo for not accepting ‘Biafra now’ of the faction of IPOB which he leads. The generality of Ndigbo since resolved that it is in their best interest to push for a restructured Nigeria, since self-determination is possible within a fully restructured Nigeria as obtained in the country prior to 1966 and the civil war. The position of Ndigbo is contained in the Awka declaration of 2018.

When Nnamdi Kanu was released from Kuje prison through the intervention of some Igbo leaders he now insults and assaults (Senator Ike Ekweremadu who organized the men who stood sureties for Kanu’s bail was his first victim in Nuremberg Germany), efforts were made to reconcile him with many of them including Chief Nnia Nwodo, Ben Nwabueze, Eze Ozobu, Dozie Ikedife and many others (some original founders of IPOB), many of who he similarly pronounced death on their heads in Radio Biafra. He held meetings with many of them where fresh understanding was reached and a new leaf supposedly turned.

The second meeting between Nnamdi Kanu and Ohanaeze and its President General Nnia Nwodo was again agreed to and a date set for it. There was a disagreement over the venue. While Nnia Nwodo legitimately wanted the second meeting to be held in his house or at the Ohanaeze Secretariat, which Kanu acceded to initially, he (Kanu) later insisted that the meeting should be held anywhere but in Chief Nwodo’s house.

This was the same time his meeting with South East Governors took place. A second meeting was scheduled between him and the Governors but operation Python Dance II was preemptively launched by the Nigerian Army days before, which presumably drove Nnamdi Kanu underground and out of the country. He resurfaced in Jerusalem Israel one year after where he was seen praying by the Wailing Wall, the remnant of the Jewish Temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE during the Siege of Jerusalem.

Since then, Kanu has held tenaciously to the position that Nnia Nwodo and the South East Governors invited Operation Python Dance II. He blamed everybody else but himself since he failed to see that apart from violating all his bail conditions, he rattled the nation’s security system, especially the military, by launching the so-called Biafra Security Service (BSS).

Hundreds of IPOB youths were seen in parades fully ornamented in black uniforms and red berets, proclaiming the birth of BSS and Nnamdi Kanu as the Commander in chief. This could be interpreted as a precursor to armed struggle, which Nnamdi Kanu assured Igbo leaders that IPOB will never engage in. Operation Python II came in the wake of the launching of Biafra Security Service, justified or nor, it was a military intervention to nip in the bud a paramilitary preponderance which Nnamdi Kanu himself brought about. In other words, Operation Python Dance was ostensibly invited by Kanu and IPOB paramilitary actions, which were suggesting they were ready for an armed struggle whereas they were not.

Turning round to blame Nnia Nwodo for Operation Python Dance is just a case of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it and psychologically, a misplaced aggression and priority. As a matter of fact, Ohanaeze actually condemned Operation Python Dance II and demanded that the military be withdrawn from Igbo land, which the media widely carried.

Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB may be saying the right thing but certainly the wrong way. Leaving him and IPOB to continue as loose cannons would mean acquiescing to their rants and narration as Igbo position. He and IPOB have misrepresented the Igbos grossly since he resurfaced in Israel.

Come to think of it, is Ohanaeze and its President General really in a position to stop the atrocities of the Fulani herdsmen in the East? Ohanaeze is not a security organization but a pan Igbo NGO saddled with advocacy for the betterment of the Igbo people in Nigeria. The most Ohanaeze can do is to push for better security in the South East and in Nigeria in general.

Advocacy is therefore the stock-in-trade of Ohanaeze and similar ethnic-based organisations and the Ohanaeze PG has done his best in the circumstance in which we live today. Those holding the constitutional powers and resources to do anything about the Fulani herdsmen atrocities in Igbo land are the governors who are the Chief Security Officers of their respective States. Yet, not a mention was made by Kanu about the governors’ inaction over insecurity in the zone but would pronounce a death sentence on the only voice left in the zone if we leave Enyinnaya Abaribe and one or two others out for a moment.

Nnia Nwodo cannot do more than advocate for Igbo cause and that he has done excellently well. He cannot arm Igbo youths to chase herdsmen out of Igbo land. Only Vigilante Operations authorised by governors can happen in Igbo land and Nnia Nwodo is pushing for that too, resulting in the Community Policing that would be under the South East governors and Local Government Chairmen.

So, the reason for Kanu’s constant attack on Nnia Nwodo is not checking the Fulani herdsmen atrocities or so much for insecurity in the South East but part of the IPOB broad plans to destroy Ohanaeze as the umbrella body for Ndigbo. That’s the role Nnamdi Kanu desires and covets for IPOB.

Question is: can what Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB are doing be really who the Igbos are, what they represent and what they want? Far from it! IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu are now more of the problem than the solution to the Igbo man’s problem in Nigeria and the world for derailing from their original cause, pitching Ndigbo against their neighbours – South South, Yorubas and the entire country. They are also attacking Christianity, the religion of over ninety percent Igbos, destroying everything Ndigbo hold dear and stand for.

Biafra cannot come through insults, assaults and shenanigans. Biafra and the rights of Ndigbo in Nigeria will come through strategic engagements with the rest of the country and world not by alienating them.

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Opinion

Op-Ed: IPOB And Nnamdi Kanu Cannot Restore Biafra

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By Kalu Nwokoro Idika

Confrontational journalism is seemingly becoming a thing of the past in Africa because individuals who are bereft of moral conscience have hijacked and taken the centre stage of the profession. But this is not to say that there are no more good men in the journalistic circle who no matter the circumstance can’t exchange justice and truth for a grain of beans. Journalists in every society are meant to shoulder the burden of informing the masses and also shielding them from predatory lies that could distort and harm their mental sanity. Moreover, this goal of keeping the masses informed must be done with objectivity. That is the signature of true journalism.

When pen warriors begins to write for the sake of mundane praises and stomach infrastructure the entire society will be at lost. That is to say, the vigour to write the truth will somewhat become a scarce commodity. Therefore, as a servant of the people, I am not under any form of obligation to pamper deceitful lies just to be seen as a good writer. I owe the people the duty to exhume and expose every destructive mendacity that could possibly undermine their economic and political wellbeing.

Since Nnamdi Kanu and his cohorts usurped and took over the business of Biafra agitation through his franchise radio, a lot of irreparable damage have been done to the South East region. Though, some of his abusive foot soldiers who do not have the foresight might attempt to dispute this statement. The arrogant leader of IPOB has indeed achieved his mission of causing confusion here and there. The little respect and tranquillity we had has been completely eroded through his abusive and unintelligent sermon on his catastrophic radio.

Unequivocally, I’m an ardent believer of Biafra restoration but Kanu’s brand of agitation is on the opposite. Nnamdi Kanu cannot restore Biafra because of his unsavoury disposition. Radio Biafra London which he uses as a weapon of mass destruction has ended up brainwashing and disfiguring the brain of the young youths and some misguided adults. It has become increasingly difficult for some of our youths to engage in any meaningful debate without throwing abuses. Individuals with contrary perspectives are either seen as vagabonds fathered by Hausa/Fulani or a paid agent of Nigeria all because their opinions are in sharp contrast with the one of the demagogue panting profusely on radio Biafra London.

Nnamdi Kanu Biafra will be worst than Nigeria. This might sound so puzzling but is the truth. Even in his utopia Biafra, Buhari will be a lesser dictator when compared with what Kanu will automatically metamorphosed to. A man that do not condone varying views but only sees everything that he says as sacrosanct. No wonder Edward Dalberg-Action said “absolute power corrupt absolutely”. IPOB leader who is an emotional manipulator never knew that he could gain such an overwhelming support from our people. Instead of using this goodwill to heal old wounds and unite the Igbo race, he turned it into a means of settling personal scores with his perceived enemies.

History has shown that arrogance and pride destroyed and reduced a lot of leaders during their reign to a trash. Nnamdi Kanu the arrogant leader of lPOB is already on this path. A freedom fighter that lacks respect for the elders. Kanu must desist from his irresponsible attitude of issuing threats to our fathers. Only a bad child can exhibit his kind of behaviour. You hide under your business radio to threaten and disband organisations you did not form. Stop arrogating positions and titles to yourself. The Igbo people are known to be acephalous in nature. So I wonder where you are drawing your leadership rascality from. Enough of your insensitivity! Our fathers must be accorded the respect they deserve and whenever they err, corrections should be done with utmost diligence and love and not by abusing, threatening fire and brimstone.

The restoration of Biafra will be a complex mirage under IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu. No road map! No sincerity! No vision! Antagonism and elimination of opponents have always defined the movement. For the past 7 years, there is nothing to show as a result. Innocent Biafrans have been killed, maimed and jailed while a deluded leader stick on his microphone to bark day and night over an utopia nation. The Biafra nation which we graciously hope for will be restored in truth and honesty but only God will make it possible and not man.

However, Nnamdi Kanu and his co travellers shouldn’t think Umu Igbo are sleeping. Biafrans are taking records of everything. Judgement day is fast approaching. I know that this commentary will infuriate the proprietors of the movement. And in their usual manner, the plan for my assassination will be presented on their table. I am aware that there is a list which contains the names of the people who are to be assassinated because they disagree with IPOB. Let this madness continue while we watch.

Be it as it may, any son of the soil that will be used to kill his own blood just because the person disagrees with their line of philosophy, such individual is bound for destruction. It’s better for the person not to contemplate it much less of doing it. Everyone must apply caution. This was how Bokoharam started and escalated to the present monster we see today. Biafrans are not known to be sheepish and stupid. We are trained to look before we leap. I will advise every young Biafran not to be a willing tool in the hands of power mongers.

Conclusively, Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB can’t restore Biafra. Our hope should be anchored on God because He alone shall wipe our tears, heal our wounds and restore the nation where we all shall have equal opportunity and happiness.

~ Idika is a political analyst, investigative and freelance journalist. He can be reached via e-mail: kalunwokoroidika@yahoo.com

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