…Unfolds FG’s Housing Scheme plans for Nigerians
The Federal Government plans to initiate a National Cooperative Housing Scheme in the country as a provision to bring the informal Sector into the nation’s Housing Programme, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, has said in Abuja.Babatunde Fashola
Fashola, who spoke at the unveiling of Karmod Nigeria Limited’s Pre-Fabricated Assembly and Installation Building facility in Abuja, said the objective was to use cooperatives as a driving force in the country’s Housing programme adding that their success in markets, in transportation and Agriculture, among other areas of the economy would be an incentive to achieve success in the sector.
In another occasion, the minister assured that Nigerians would soon begin to enjoy the effects of renewed infrastructure nationwide.
The Minister, who said the government would also leverage on the successes and numerical strength of the cooperatives manifested in the many unions and associations they have in every state of the country, added that they would be mobilized under the aegis of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria to obtain loans to develop their own houses according to their tastes and preferences.
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Cooperatives which would be eligible to participate in the scheme, the Minister said, would be those “who are properly registered, who have their trustees and leaderships to act for them, who have their own lands and who convey an approval of the type of house they want so that they won’t be stranded”.
“We will tell them to get a planned approval for land in which ever state so that it won’t become a slum. We will work with that state’s government to ensure that access roads are built; we will give them development loans to give Real Estate developers so that you build for yourself and contribute the counterpart fund to finish. In this way we will achieve the scheme”, he said.
Fashola said the Next Level Agenda of the present administration encompasses policies and programmes that are people oriented and are meant to consolidate and sustain the achievements made in the last four years in all sectors of the economy adding that policies like the Eligible Customer and the Off-Grid initiative have enabled private businesses to source their own power either directly from generation companies or independent of the national grid as done by Messrs Karmod Nigeria Limited.
“If you follow the trajectory of government plans, Housing and Consumer Credit, this is one of the major objectives of this government in its Next Level Agenda; Agro development, food production, processing, manufacturing and transport infrastructure – Roads, Rail, Airports and Seaports, Education and Healthcare. These are the major focal areas of this government”, the Minister said.
He commended the Chairman of the Company, Mr. Hakeem Shagaya, for investing in Housing saying in so far as it seeks to boost housing development in the country, the investment “sits appropriately within the focal area of the government which is Housing and Consumer Credit”.
The Minister also said that with the Federal Government’s commitment to renewal of infrastructure across the country, Nigeria would sing a new song soon in terms of ease of movement and doing business.
Fashola, who made the declaration while playing host to a United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) delegation led by the Representative to ECOWAS and Regional Director, Nigeria Regional Hub, Mr. Jean Bakole, who paid a courtesy visit to him, said the massive renewal of the nation’s roads, bridges, rails, airports and seaports meant that “in the shortest possible Nigerians will sing a new song”.
The Minister, who noted that work has already started in those areas across the country, pointed out that most of the infrastructure have already been upgraded while some roads have been either completed or nearing completion in most areas adding that in those sections where work has been completed, movement of goods and services have become easier as being testified to by commuters.
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According to the Minister, although some of the road projects are yet to start those already completed have brought with them better travel experience in terms of the ease of doing business adding that better experience in movement of goods and services would translate to industrial growth and development.
He said the Government was also focusing on Science, Education as critical purveyors of development adding that already the seeds were being sown under the nation’s broad Educational policy and its Social Investment programme that empowers the youth to go and teach in those areas.
Fashola said Government’s commitment to Agriculture was also yielding results in terms of increase in food production such as rice, cereal and others adding that although the price of food was still high, it was expected to come down significantly as supply increased.
The Minister said, with the increase in food production, Nigeria was now supplying not only to local markets but also to international markets such as the North and Central African sub-regions, adding that as supply increased the Government would want to see more value added.
“We want to see more projects in manufacturing and all of that. Those are at the heart of helping the economy grow in Small and Medium businesses”, the Minister said adding that because of the understanding of their capacities and their contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) the Small and Medium businesses were being supported by clear government policies through institutions like the Bank of Industries and Ministry of Trade and Investments.
Also, according to the Minister, the Ministry of Finance is also developing Fiscal policies to give relief to them in terms of the way they pay their taxes adding that such relief could be seen in the way the current increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) was structured by the President in favour of the small businesses whom, he said, “are clearly under the protective custody of Mr. President”.
Assuring that all the projects would soon come to fruition to give Nigerians a better future, Fashola said in terms of building an industrial base in this country, President Muhammadu Buhari was very clear where his priorities lay adding that those were the priorities that formed the basis of his Campaign promises to the electorates.
He listed the priorities to include tackling corruption which, he noted, “is inimical to prosperity, improving the economy to deliver prosperity and to improve security, the lack of which, he also noted, “is inimical to industrial development”. Also embedded in the promises, he said, is to develop and renew the country’s infrastructure “which is very important for business efficiency, growth and productivity”.
“The truth is that the rate at which our household has grown has not been matched by the rate at which our infrastructure is growing and this administration understands that. The Nigerian household has grown and we need to build a new infrastructure not only to accommodate those who are currently in the house but those who are on their way”, the Minister said.
Fashola, who expressed the hope that with the ongoing massive infrastructure renewal the nation would emerge from its present economic situation to a better and prosperous nation, however, added that there is always a distance between policy articulation, policy implementation and the results. “But policy has been articulated, implementation is being undertaken and results lie at the horizon and the end”, he said.
Thanking the UNIDO delegation for the courtesy of the visit, Fashola said Nigeria has clearly embraced partnerships with the United Nations Organization and its affiliates adding that recent proof of such collaboration was demonstrated by the President’s personal attendance at the just concluded United Nations General Assembly as well as embracing other collaborative programmes of the world body.
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The Minister, however, advocated a reform in the United Nations rules and regulations pointing out that the existing rules and regulations have become obsolete and could no longer meet the present challenges.
“Everybody knows that the UN has come a long way and many of its foundational rules and regulations and development programmes clearly need an upgrade”, the Minister said noting that the world is moving faster and changing much more rapidly. “The UN Charter for example needs reforms to bring them in conformity with today’s global challenges if it must continue to fulfill the obligations for which it was created”, he said.
Responding to the introductory remarks of the leader of the delegation, Fashola expressed delight at the amount ($60million USD) which the UNIDO has mapped out for investment in about nine sectors in the country. He, however, advised that instead of spreading the amount on so many areas it would be more beneficial to invest it in two or three critical areas that would be more impactful to the needs of the people.
“Sixty million USD is a huge amount of money. But it is not the money that is the issue but how it is being used. My thoughts are that instead of spreading this money thin over a large area, as you said, why not use it on one or two projects that could be impactful to the people”, he said suggesting that the money could be invested in a massive industrial complex “that becomes an example in Africa”.