The chairman of the house of representatives committee on housing, Mustafa Dawaki (APC, Kano), on Tuesday questioned the competence of the minister of power, works and housing, Babatunde Fashola, during an interactive session between the committee and the minister.
Dawaki said that the minister was inexcusable for the delay in the takeoff of housing projects despite the fact that the federal government had submitted its budget since last year.
“What has the Ministry been doing since November last year when the budget was presented till now that appropriate designs are not ready, you have not even advertised for it?” Dawaki asked. “Are you not competent or what, because you ought to have competed the design by February so that once the budget was passed you commence. Design should not take more than 15 days because your experts in the Ministry have been doing it for years.”
The lawmaker said that by the time the ministry starts work on housing projects, there will just be three months left in the year.
Fashola pushed back against the allegations of incompetence. He said the delay in coming up with a design for national housing projects was because other infrastructure like roads, sewage disposal and water have to be planned into it and that’s what the Ministry had been doing.
“The Ministry should be commended and not condemned because the budget is inadequate,” Fashola said. “We are focusing on sustainable housing plan that works rather. Affordability and slum prevention is key to this design.”
The minister unveiled his plans for mass housing in Nigeria, saying the government will soon embark on the construction of an energy efficient housing model designed by GTZ, a German company. The first phase of the project, according to the minister, will see 360 mass houses constructed in three states through Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
Fashola said 17 out of 36 states approached for land for the housing scheme have so far responded, adding that the new housing model will be incorporated into the National Building Code.
He explained that the Ministerial Committee that will look into land title Deeds, water, sewage and transportation as well as Committee on Cost have been set up to fast-track the project delivery.
Fashola who expressed reservation on the adequacy of the N36 billion appropriated for housing sector in the 2016 budget, unveiled plans for the development of “Rent to Own” scheme for those who cannot afford mortgage.
He said: “We look at the N36 billion as the fund with which we will build the concept and if the concept is successful, then we can roll it out more massively because it is not going to solve our housing problems. We can rush out and get some results but we are desirous to have a lasting housing intervention.
“We have consulted widely and from our feedback, we are building according to culture. Our one bedroom is 60 square meters different from the normal one bedroom which is on the average of 20-30 square meters. It is a very big one bedroom. Affordability lies at the heart of what we are doing”.
Fashola disclosed that the partnership with Shelter Afrique, for construction of 5,000 units of houses under the ‘5,000 for 5,000 initiative’ will result into delivery of one bedroom at N1 million and payment spread over time with a mortgage facility.
He pointed out that the take-off of the housing project is however limited by procurement act which compels government to make 15% advance payment to contractors, to enable local and poor contractors to participate.