LAGOS – Confronted by the enormous housing deficit in the country’s housing sector and the need to urgently address it, a cross section of professionals and stakeholders alike in the built environment have suggested measures to be put in place by both the Federal and state governments to bring about a lasting solution to this guagmire.

Presently, different figures are being bandied about as to the true housing deficit in the country ranging from 17 million to 21 million but the general consensus, is that the country’s housing deficit is massive with the increasing population growth.

This development has caught the attention of professionals and stakeholders in the built environment with most of them advocating for the construction of affordable houses in order to stem the tide.

According to them, if this is done, it would no doubt; bring about a drastical reduction of Nigerians that don’t have a roof over their heads.

The Immediate past President of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers(NIESV),Esv. Emmanuel Okas Wike says that it is quite ‘unfortunate’ that the nation’s housing deficit is very huge in relation to the over 200 million population adding that something drastic should be done in order to mitigate this anomaly

According to him, the housing deficit which he said could be estimated to be in the region of about 19 million is something to worry about

His words: “It is quite unfortunate, that as most developed countries of the world have been able to find a way of addressing the issue of acute housing shortage ,Nigeria is still grappling with a way of constructing low and affordable housing for its citizenry that we have now,is grossly inadequate and the earlier we start thinking of finding a permanent solution to this ‘hydra-headed monster, the better it will be for the people.
My honest suggestion is for all governments at different levels to embark on the construction of low and affordable housing.

I commend the efforts of the Federal Government and some state governments in their efforts at building affordable housing for the people but the question to be asked, is how affordable are these units”.

Speaking in similar vein, a former President of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB),Blue. Chucks Omeife hinted, that the issue of the provision of low and affordable houses had been lingering for only God knows pointing out; thst the problem is simply the lack of political will to take the bull by the horn.

He said that once the Federal Government demonstrates or shows its readiness to combat the issue head-on, all other things would fall in place. He was quick to add, that the various figures been bandied about in respect of the nation’s housing deficit ‘ cannot be correct’ because we don’t have the wherewithal to determine the true position of things.

He added however, that governments at all levels, should commence without further delay, the construction of real low and affordable housing units essentially for low income earners and other individuals who are on the lower rung of the economic ladder. By so doing, more people would be opportuned to access these housing units without having to engage in untoward or shady deals just because they want to own a house at all cost.

He was however, quick to point out that if the government was keen on making this happen, what it should do, is to allow the private property developers to be fully involved but should endeavour to provide the infrastructure and supervise the process in addition to making the process of obtaining loans for the construction of the units less cumbersome.

Omeife noted that the National Housing Trust Fund should be alive to its responsibility by giving loans at very low interest rate to those that are eligible and qualified for accessing them.

The Chairmen of the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Lagos Stare Chapter, Arc. David Majekodunmi opined, that the provision of low and affordable housing is key to the reduction of the country’s housing deficit, but was quick to point out that it would take a very long time for the country to meet it’s housing needs because of the ever increasing growth of the population.

According to him, the deficit is growing by the day hence, there is the need for all hands to be on deck if only we are desirious of closing the deficit

He added, that the economy presently cannot sustain a massive and robust construction because there are other competing needs which are also begging for attention.

Majekodunmi was however, optimistic, that with the political will and the right attitude, the issue could be addressed within the shortest possible time.

In his own submission, the Chairman of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) TPL, Ayo Adejumo frowned at a situation where most of the housing units being constructed nationwide, are not within the reach of the down trodden or the low income earners.

According to him, it is ‘unacceptable” that even the so called mass housing the Federal Government is constructing in some states cannot be accessed by the low income earners.

He was quick to add, that this development has negated the essence of the programme.

Adejumo further noted that until the governments at various leeks begin to do the right thing by actually constructing houses that are truly affordable, it would be a mirage to get the housing deficit reduced.

He enjoined the Federal Government review its policy on housing and embrace the private property developers to partner with it in its quest to making housing delivery get to the people at the lower rung of the ladder.