Policy Briefs

Selonnes Policy Tidbits:| Nigeria’s Housing Deficit and Demolitions of Presumed Illegal Structures

Nigeria has been awash with recent news of government authorities demolishing inexpensive and expensive houses nationwide, all presumed to be illegal structures. These demolitions are ongoing, and those who authorize such policies, seem oblivious of the global housing crisis, which also drastically affects Nigeria. Presently, more than 1.9 billion people lack access to adequate housing globally. An estimated 150 million live in permanent homelessness with an average of 15 million people being forcibly evicted from their homes every year.

Nigeria has 70 million housing deficit. Of the estimated 130 million Nigerians living in multidimensional poverty, 50% are either homeless, squatting, have been evicted or had their shelters demolished. For Nigeria, there a housing policy dissonance: she is not meeting her housing needs, yet she is destroying the ones that have been built, for reasons that are at best superfluous. The recent revelation that the Federal Capital Territory authorities intend to demolish 200 units of housing in the Nuwalege community in Abuja to clear the way for the Presidential Fleet, has brought Nigeria’s housing policy contradictions to the fore. It points also to Nigeria’s lack of a National Resiliency Strategy or Policy. Moreover, these presumed illegal homes and structures are often constructed with the complicity of those in officialdom, who grant faux zoning and building permits.

Invariably, due to high rural urban migration and poorly regimented affordable housing loan schemes, most Nigerians in the urban areas are squatters – through no fault of theirs. Federal and State governments continue to pay lip service to improving national housing standards. But most housing development schemes are transactional and most investors are in it for profit, even for low cost housing schemes. Nationally, the cost of building materials, especially cement has become prohibitive. As such, a large segment of Nigerians trapped in multidimensional poverty, cannot afford or have access to affordable housing. There are no social safety nets to resort to. Since most of them are in the domestic service sector and commercial support industries in the inner cities, they strive to live within the peripherals of such cities to avoid the high cost of daily commute and transportation. Stalemate!

It is some of those within this cadre that occupy the 200 homes in Nuwalege that the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) intend to demolish to make way for the Presidential Fleet. This is a rogue policy, which in essence, violates government’s primary responsibility to protect her citizens. It should not stand. The least the FGN should have done, is start with a resettlement scheme that offers housing affordability and security in the short and long term. Alternatively, if the place is being acquired under the “eminent domain clause” and therefore, in the public interest, then there must be adequate compensation. That is what the law, morality and good governance dictates. Someone should pass on the message to the FCT authorities. [SCL]

Oseloka Obaze, MD & CEO

Oseloka Obaze, MD & CEO

Mr. Obaze is the former Secretary to the State Government of Anambra State, Nigeria from 2012 to 2015 - MD & CEO, Oseloka H. Obaze. Mr. Obaze also served as a former United Nations official, from 1991-2012, and as a former member of the Nigerian Diplomatic Service, from 1982-1991.

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