Nigeria has a severe housing crisis. Two-thirds of the population in its commercial capital and richest city Lagos live in slums. According to the BBC, about 500,000 people move to Lagos every year and there is a housing deficit of 17m units across the country.
In 2014, the finance ministry reported that there were only 20,000 open mortgages in the entire country. None of these mortgages extend beyond 10 years. So, the overwhelming majority of Nigerians without well-paid jobs are excluded from owning their own homes. It shouldn’t be like this and it is clear that the “market” has failed.
The Nigerian Constitution states in Chapter 2, Section 16(2) that: The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that suitable and adequate shelter…are provided for all citizens”.
A firm owned by UK born and raised engineer Lucky Garba, may be just the key for Nigerian governments at local, state and federal level to fulfil their constitutional obligations and allow many of Nigeria’s slum-dwellers to live lives of dignity. The late South African housing minister and former freedom fighter Joe Slovo said: “Housing is not a privilege, it is a fundamental right. To live in an environment in degeneration is to produce a degraded people.”
Watch how Garba’s work can regenerate the homes of those that live in degeneration in Nigeria:
It is clear that budgets are tight in Nigeria, but these homes can be built with about $12,000 and in two weeks. Anyone can construct and live in a three-bedroom eco-friendly home, with a solar-panelled roof and built-in water purification system. This a massive chance for Nigerian governments to deliver affordable homes for the millions of Nigerians without this fundamental human right.
The first challenge is finding land. The state and the federal governments can step up here and support the venture with undeveloped land. It can be done on an incremental basis, with a few homes being built at a time. Several state governments such as Lagos and Rivers have embarked on slum demolitions in recent times to reclaim land for property developers that usually cater for the high-end of the market. It is not too much for them to consider social housing for the less well off and provide some support that would enable Garba to deliver decent and affordable homes for their people.
In March this year, Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola spoke about a “Federal Housing Scheme”. He said: “There is a National Housing Policy in place aimed at providing affordable housing but there has been no programme in place to deliver the houses”. A programme to deliver homes at relatively cheap cost is now available. We call on the government to grab this opportunity. It is a golden opportunity to make homelessness a thing of the past in Nigeria.