Tackling Housing Deficit in Ogun State

Dapo Abiodun

Razaq Elegbede

Ogun State is Nigeria’s industrial hub and this is partly because of its proximity to Lagos, the fifth largest economy in Africa. It is by no means the destination for potential investors to open their businesses, courtesy of the current administration in the state that has provided improved security network, as well as ongoing construction of both rural and urban roads, among others.

While cashing in on the availability of the four cardinal principles of the business initiatives denoting, Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT), in its proximity to Lagos, till date, Ogun State has been largely rated for what is called the “push factor” of the Centre of Excellence (Lagos). Thus, it has translated into an influx of companies coming to invest in Ogun and network to Lagos, leveraging on the dearth of land resource in Lagos.

Indeed, Ogun has shown the willingness in its commitment to change the “push factor” to a “pull factor”. The strategy is to endear the investors to the state, where already an enabling environment has been created for them. Besides, the administration has bridged the infrastructure gap towards accelerating the socio-economic development vision, which is the state’s top priority.

While envisaging the growing influx of people into the state daily, one striking challenge of the current dispensation is the ongoing revolution in the provision of housing projects at adequate, affordable and sustainable rates in all the three senatorial districts, in order to take care of the threat of deficit in the nearest future.

It is, therefore, in a bid to address the challenge that the Dapo Abiodun administration evolved a model that would meet the housing needs of the residents of the state. The governor, with his private sector background and purposeful governance anchored on a robust developmental blueprint, summarised as “Building Our Future Together”, has opened up all the nooks and crannies of the state through capital investments in infrastructure. By and large, to him, housing is one of the pillars and enablers of the administration.

Having successfully completed the study, the government has devised strategies to frontally address the housing deficit among the state’s workforce and others, at affordable rates. One of such was a resolve that none of the inherited housing projects from preceding administrations were abandoned. The rationale is to build on their achievements and to guarantee that the investments in these projects were not wasted.

Some of these projects include the 400-unit workers’ housing in Kemta, Idi-Aba, Abeokuta delivered at a discounted rate, while there is a downward review of the 160-unit AAK Degun Estate situated at Laderin Estate, Abeokuta from the initial selling price of N7 million to N5 million. There are also 92 units of three-bedroom semi-detached flats and 68 units of two-bedroom apartments which price were slashed.

The government has also refunded payments to allottees of the AAK Degun Estate Laderin, Abeokuta, who had earlier made full payment. And this translates to the refund of N1.5 million each to some of the allottees of the three-bedroom apartments, just as the government has also relaxed its terms and conditions in the sale of the units, including the reduction of interest rate from 18 per cent to six per cent.

However, the government is not only making provision for affordable housing to the residents to bridge the deficit, but it is also committed to providing affordable and crisis-free land schemes to the people of the state who are willing to build on their own under the “Site and Service Land Scheme” at different locations, on a flexible payment plan.

So far, in the first phase of Prince Court Estate Kemta, Idi-Aba, Abeokuta, 130 units has been fully completed with the state-of-the-art infrastructural facilities. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that this laudable intervention project, by the state government, is already replicated in the Government Reserved Areas (GRAs) and Resettlement, such as: Kemta, Idi-Aba 2, Abeokuta (Abeokuta South LGA), Ijebu-Ode (Ijebu-Ode LGA), Otta (Ado-Odo/Ota LGA), Ilaro (Yewa South LGA), Sagamu WAPCO (Sagamu LGA), Lagos/Ibadan Expressway, Sagamu (Sagamu LGA), Kobape (Obafemi-Owode) and Iperu (Remo North).
As part of the government’s resolve to be up to its game in this sector, the state government has also renovated and engaged in the construction of comfortable quarters of the 20 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) spread across the state for its health workers. Other provisions include the fixing of modern household equipment to these quarters.

Also, apart from choosing Ogun State as a first beneficiary of the 10,000 housing units to be constructed by the federal government under the Social Housing Scheme, the state government has equally come up with the provision of additional 2,500 units before the end of the first term in office of the present administration, in order to meet the targeted 12,500 units.
At a recent event to commemorate the “2020 World Habitat Day with the theme; “Housing For All: A Better Urban Future”, Governor Abiodun remarked that, in line with the theme and Agenda 2030 of the United Nations (UN), his administration had embarked on the construction of affordable mass housing scheme across the state,
He said the development signposted the state government’s commitment towards the delivery of the housing scheme that would not be limited to the state capital (Abeokuta) alone.

According to him, “The right to adequate shelter has been recognised and enshrined in numerous International Instruments and Conventions, supported by most governments around the world, and Nigeria is no exception. Consequently, programmes of assistance in the area of finance and provision of infrastructure have been designed by the government to enhance delivery.
Aside solving the housing deficit, the cheering development about these projects is that it has job creation component for the teeming unemployed youths with the use of local contractors to handle the construction. Besides, the main and sub-contractors, numerous artisans, labourers, suppliers and food vendors are also effectively engaged to earn a living from these projects.
The second strategy evolved by the government to tackle the state’s housing deficit through the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mechanism, include the interest shown by both the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) and Family Home Funds (FHF) to partner the state government in the provision of housing projects.

The PPP option involves the state government providing land for private investors at subsidised rate, while the investors construct affordable housing units. Parts of the waivers were the recent 30 per cent reduction of the cost of land and amenity charges granted to business enterprises as a form of COVID-19 palliative. Through this gesture, the government decided to support investors with the land resources of the state in view of the toll the pandemic outbreak has taken on the businesses.
It should be noted that in the past, preceding administrations did not exploit the opportunities that are abound in the involvement of the PPP in the provision of housing projects in the state. This was partly due to lack of transparency and inability to deliver.

In order to encourage more residents of the state to embrace the mortgage finance option, the Governor recently at the 3rd Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Gateway Mortgage Bank, urged the bank’s management to provide unique and excellent mortgage finance services to its customers by bringing to bear their managerial acumen. He also charged the management to collaborate and make the aspirations a win-win situation for their investors and customers. To this end, the bank has built structures to provide support for the housing programme of the government, as well as widening the mortgage market in the state.
––Elegbede wrote from Igan-Alade, Yewa North LGA, Ogun state.