Shareholders of Afriland Properties Plc have called on the Federal Government to replicate the success recorded agriculture in the housing sector to bridge the N21 trillion deficit, even as they okay the firm’s 10 kobo dividend.

At the company’s 2021 yearly general meeting held in Lagos last week, the shareholders bemoaned the rising cost of building materials and the lack of housing for the middle-income population.

The Founder of the Independence Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Sunny Nwosu, said until the government sets aside a budgetary allocation and extends interventions in other sectors in housing, the prolonged deficit in the sector would not be addressed.

He said such interventions would deliver more affordable and low cost housing for the middle-income earners and help control the rising deficit.

Nwosu said: “We are talking of the housing gap, we cannot close this gap without government allocations to enable banks to provide housing loans to operators. The gap in the sector has continued to widen. We need middle-class residential buildings, not a high class to help reduce the struggle by this group to secure affordable homes.”

He also commended the company for the smooth running of its operations and increasing shareholders’ value through dividend payments amid a harsh operating environment.

Reviewing its performance, the chairman of the company, Emmanuel Nnorom, said the company posted revenue of N1.99 billion against N1.85 billion achieved in the corresponding period in 2020, while profit before tax rose from N1.01 billion to N1.60 billion in the review period.

Nnorom added that the percentage increase in revenue was eight per cent while profit rose by 58 per cent.

To consolidate on the performance, the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Uzoamaka Oshogwe, said the company is well positioned to take advantage of government’s policy direction and optimise future rental income from its proprietary properties.

She said this would help the company continue the aggressive development of its properties for residential and commercial purposes with a view of maximising shareholders’ value on investment.