It is quite difficult securing accommodation in Nigeria of today. The cost of acquiring one is on the rise and will probably remain so in a very long time as a result of a fast growing population without a corresponding rise in mass houses.
The World Bank estimates that there are 17 million housing deficit in Nigeria while Managing Director Federal Mortgage Bank, (FMBN), Mr. Gimba Ya’u Kumo says it will take N56 trillion to adequately meet these housing needs, if it costs at least 3.5 million to construct just one unit.
“This is a colossal amount which cannot be funded only through the National Housing Fund (NHF), but requires urgent injection of funds from both the government and the private sector”, he explained. But as it is, government at both the federal and state level seems to be doing one thing or the other as it relates to addressing some of these needs, same with the private sector.
At the federal level, what government has done is basically through the NHF which requires workers to contribute 2.5 percent of their monthly income to qualify for loan up to 90 percent of the cost of the house to be acquired payable at 6 percent interest rate for a period of 30 years. Under the NHF scheme, applicants are entitled to a maximum of N15 million.
Besides the NHF, the Federal Government is also making loans available to individuals through Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC). Task Manager, NMRC, Mr. Sonnie Ayere said the scheme will put houses in the hands of many Nigerians.
“The average Nigerian will be able to own a home by accessing up to 20-year loans from mortgage or commercial bank”, he said. This scheme is however anchored on a soft loan of $300 million from the World Bank. Speaking on mass housing for workers, Minister of Labour, Dr. Emeka Wogu, explained that government hopes to deliver mass housing through a rent to own arrangement.
At least 100,000 housing units are expected to be delivered in the first place throughout the federation with 20,000 units earmarked for Lagos State. It is not clear how much the houses will be sold to the average worker.
While Nigerians are waiting for the Federal Government to deliver on this housing scheme, the Babatunde Fashola-led government of Lagos State took the bull by the horn by launching what it called mass housing for residents of the state with 1,104 completed homes while another 3, 156 homes are at various stages of completion.
“We are starting 132 units in Iponri, 720 units in Ibeshe, Ikorodu, 420 units in Ajara, Badagry, 648 units in Sangotedo Phase II, 216 units in Obele, 36 units in Oyingbo, 1,252 units in Ilubirin and 1,080 units in Ijora Badia”, the governor said adding that it could have sold the houses, collect the money and wait for the next batch but that sustainability is key for government. Government, he said has taken pains to design the flats too enable them have more space than what is available in the open market.
“For instance our one bedroom flat is 60.22 square meters while the 2 bedroom is 75.79 square meters and the 3 bedroom is 123.88 square meters. They all contain more living area than many of the standard 1, 2 and 3 bedrooms in the market, which are ordinary available to middle and low income bracket people who are our target under this project”, he said.
He explained that to be able to carry out the project, government has to set aside the sum of N200 million monthly at the beginning, which it has now upgraded to N500 million monthly. He explained that government hopes to complete 4,260 homes before end of the year.
Prices of the Lagos HOMS range from N4.2 million for a room and parlour and N4.10 million to N9.08 million for one bedroom flat depending on the area; a two bedroom flat ranged from N6.22 million to N18.61 million in Gbagada while a three bedroom flat sold for N9.96 million at Hon. Shotomiwa Estate Igbogbo, Ikorodu and N32.53 million in Gbagada Phase II.
Potential applicants to the Lagos HOMS are expected to fill an online form and pay a non-refundable processing fee of N10, 000. Qualified applicants are entered for raffled draws while the successful applicants will pay 30 percent of the total cost of property in question and spread the remaining for a period of 10 years at an interest rate of 9.5 percent.
While many have commended the state government for the initiative, they have also questioned the rationale for affixing so high an amount to houses that are met for the low and medium income earner.
Besides, some have argued that houses offered for sale by the Lagos State Government ought not to be this expensive since government is not in the business of making profit, moreso, when the land on which the properties were built have long ago been acquired for public interest at give-away prices.
“If I have N4 million my brother, I will build a bungalow of my dream”, a public servant who preferred to be anonymous told our correspondent.
Even at that the Lagos State Government has often defended itself by saying that the prices are fixed based on the high cost of building materials. But experts have also countered this argument buy saying that both the state government and individuals involved in property development buy from the same market, and wondered why prices of state houses are more expensive than what is offered by some private developers, even when they are not detached apartment.
For instance, a block of 6 nos of two bedroom flat with 4 nos of 1 bedroom flat in Ikotun sells for as low as N13 million, while a block of 4 number of 3 bedroom flat sell for N10 million in the same area. In Festac Town, a 4 bedroom semi-detached house with 2 room BQ at 23 road – sells for just N26M. In Okokomaiko, for instance, a 700 Square metres land with 4 bedroom bungalow, 2bedroom flat and a mini flat at Ajanaku Street sells for N5M, while a 3 bedroom flat at Iba Housing Estate sells for as low as N3 million.
Of course some of these houses may lack facilities that those in the Lagos HOMS can boast of. Besides, the Lagos HOMS still stand cheaper compared to some properties offered for sales in prime areas within the Lagos metropolis.
In Lekki for instance, a 4 to 5 bedroom goes for as much as 200 million, while UAC properties offers 2 bedroom for 36 million; 3 bedroom for 43million and 4 bedroom for 46 million at the refurbished 1004 Housing Estate.
However, houses of this nature remains the exclusive preserve of the rich, forcing many into believing that mass housing still remains a big dream in Nigeria and Lagos in particular, most especially when the average public servant and journalist that afforded houses built by the first executive governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande can still not afford what has been termed mass housing in Lagos State.