The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN has debunked the narrative that Nigeria has 16 million housing deficit urging newsmen to discontinue the publication of such information as it has not been confirmed by any authority.
Fashola who spoke while hosting the All Progressive Congress, (APC), Press Corps who paid him a visit at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing in Mabushi said “I don’t know that there is sixteen million deficit, I don’t know that. I think as journalists, it is important to question things so that you can report accurately to people.”
The Minister told members of the corps, “I was told that this number came from the World Bank, they said it didn’t come from them. And if you continue to publish and reinforce it, it gains the currency of truth and I think it is incumbent on you now to go and ask yourselves, Is it the truth? Is it verifiable? And should it be published or not?”
Urging Journalists to correct the narrative Fashola further asked, “Is it true that we need to build sixteen million houses? If that is the truth, which country has built sixteen million houses in the world?” He added that “If the statement is true it means that half of the people in Nigeria are homeless since Nigeria has about forty million households”.
The Minister said like every other nation in the world, Nigeria has got its own share of housing deficit which is being addressed in various ways, explaining that his Ministry through the Federal Mortgage Bank, (FMB) and the Federal Housing Authority, (FHA), had been addressing the problem from various angles. Such angles, he said, includes granting loan of between N5M to 15M to people who contribute to National Housing Fund at single digit interest rate and removal of deposits for those who apply for N5M and less among others
The Minister further said that in the past these category of people were required to pay equity of ten percent but the Buhari administration removed it to grant access to those who otherwise would have been disqualified adding that those who borrow between five to twenty million were expected to pay twenty percent equity before this administration reduced it to ten percent.
Fashola disclosed that other measures being used to solve the problem include: financing of Real Estate Developers to build houses for people, provision of land to people who just want to buy their land and build adding that the Ministry currently has about 25,000. housing units across the nation in different stages of development.
Recalling that the government was now driving the policy of Cooperative Housing nationwide, the Minister advised people to form cooperatives, get a land and apply for the package adding, “We are trying many things, building for people through Federal Mortgage Bank and also encouraging people to build for themselves. We are encouraging private developers also, Federal Government alone cannot do it.”
He further said that government was considering how to bring houses that are not in use and those that are underused into the market through discussions with the owners adding that housing should not be viewed only from the angle of ownership as there is no place in the world where everyone owned a house.
He stressed the need for house owners to consider reduction in rent and duration of payment asking “How do you ask people to go and get a two years rent in advance when they are getting monthly salary?”.
The Minister who noted that no nation has enough houses declared “ it is aspirational, it is a good goal and Nigeria will continue to work towards it.”
Director Press and Public Relations