The Nigerian housing sector is beset with a myriad of problems which have slowed down the pace of development of the sector over the years. Nigeria has been reported to have over 28 million housing deficit, a figure hotly debated by the current Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Arc. Ahmed Musa Dangiwa.

According to experts, despite having the potential to create jobs and boost the Nigerian economy, the sector’s growth had been hampered by poor land administration system, inefficient mortgage system, and a lack of of data and a dysfunctional regulatory framework, among others.

But with the appointment of an architect and a former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) in the person of Dangiwa in August 2023 to head the now stand-alone Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, players in the sector became hopeful that the sector can be boosted to perform optimally and contribute significantly to the economic growth and development of the nation.

The Minister, whom many players in the sector have described as a square peg in a square hole, will be driving five key reforms to ensure that housing delivery in the country is improved with the ripple effects of job and wealth creation being part of his focus.

Buoyed by a budget of N99,982,577,351 billion; N96,996,742, 132 billion for capital projects and N682,686,111 for overhead cost while N2, 303,149,108  is for personnel cost, Dangiwa’s 2024 housing agenda is quite ambitious, experts say.

Attracting investments through land reforms

The housing sector has huge potential to attract investment both within the country and from the diaspora but among the many impediments to this prospect is the issue of land administration which has been mired in racketeering and scam in the encumbered processes of application, titling and acquisition.

According to Barr. Festus Adebayo, a notable housing advocate, the minister cannot deliver on his housing mandate if he does not carry out reforms that will make land accessible to estate developers.

He said among other priorities of Dangiwa that he should collaborate with state governors who have the constitutional power to issue Certificates of Occupancy (CofOs) to ease access to land so as to encourage developers to invest in social housing.

The President of the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), Dr Aliyu Wammako, also echoed the same sentiment, saying unhindered access to land and an efficient, time-saving land administration system will unlock the untapped potential of the sector which holds the key to solving Nigeria’s unemployment.

The Media Adviser to the Minister, Mr Mark Chieshe, said “Dangiwa has a bold  vision for the sector and is committed to backing it up with the necessary political will to break  down all barriers that discourage investment in the sector.”

He said the Minister wants to drive through initiatives that will create an enabling environment for easier, safer and more profitable private sector investments in housing.

He said the land reform particularly targets the diaspora with 20 million Nigerians remitting $24bn yearly, that a robust reform would attract a chunk of the remittance to the sector.

“A notable part of our housing sector reforms that are of particular interest to the diaspora interested in investing in the housing and real estate sector is land reforms. What we envision is a streamlined land administration that cuts through the bureaucratic bottlenecks and systemic inefficiencies to ensure cost-effective and efficient access to land for both individuals and investors in our country,” Chieshe quoted Dangiwa as saying at the 6th edition of the Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit in Abuja in September.

Partnership for Affordable Housing

According to Chieshe,  among other priorities, Dangiwa considers social housing top on his priority list and thus has partnered with the private sector to deliver social housing to low and middle-income earners across the country.

In December, the minister signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the ministry and a consortium of developers to construct 100,000 affordable housing units across the country, saying this would further plug the gap in the housing deficit.

Renewed Hope Agenda estates, cities

Also, during his 2024 budget defence at the National Assembly in December 2023, the minister reiterated his commitment to building homes for Nigerians and creating liveable cities.  He said he has lined up the construction of 20,000 housing units under the Renewed Hope Agenda Housing Scheme to provide affordable housing and reduce the housing deficit bedevilling Nigeria.

Dangiwa added that the completion of the construction of the National Housing programmes in 35 states of the federation, and the completion of ongoing construction of federal secretariats in 11 states of the federation which are at various building stages would be prioritised.

Renewing urban centres, upgrading slums

Dangiwa, as an architect, has expressed concern about the deteriorating state of most Nigerian towns and cities and is determined to pursue an aggressive urban renewal programme across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), with another component focusing on upscaling slums to decent settlements.

According to  Adebayo,  the minister’s body language shows that he is determined to build sustainable towns and cities that guarantee sanitation and a healthy environment in line with the Sustainable  Development Goals (SDGs).

Accurate data for strategic planning

Having identified a lack of accurate data on the housing deficit in Nigeria, the minister, shortly after his appointment, met with the Chairman, National Population Commission, Hon Nasir Isa Kwarra,  in an effort to address what he described as one of “Nigeria’s  most pressing data challenges: Accurately determining the extent of the housing deficit in Nigeria.”

He, at different fora, argued that the current figure of 28 million deficit is unacceptable since it is not verifiable. “But for years, our nation has grappled with conflicting and unsubstantiated figures regarding this crisis. The range of estimates, varying from 17 million to 28 million, has not only been a source of embarrassment but also a hindrance to effective policymaking and strategic planning,” he said.

However, he added, “I believe that it is time to change this narrative and take coordinated action to bring clarity and credibility to our understanding of the housing deficit and the state of housing in Nigeria. This is because policies and projects that are shaped by data are not only more effective but also more accountable to the people they serve.”

Thus, Adebayo said at all consultative and interactive meetings with stakeholders in the sector that Dangiwa has affirmed his commitment to drive this focus on establishing accurate, credible, verifiable and scientifically sound data on the housing deficit and the living conditions of the homes that Nigerians live in nationwide in 2024.

Now, it remains to be seen how the reforms will enhance housing delivery and boost the Nigerian economy in 2024.

Source: Daily Trust