The three basic necessities of life include food, shelter and security. Shelter is one of the most expensive assets individuals aspire to own. But government, all over the globe, sees to the provision of basic needs of its citizens. It is common knowledge that the current administration in Ogun State with its purposeful governance and robust developmental blueprint, summarised as “Building Our Future Together” mantra, has opened many parts of the state through capital investments in infrastructure, including housing, as one of the pillars and enablers, for the accelerated economic growth and development of the state.
In the provision of affordable housing for all and sundry, government alone can’t bear the burden. Thus, the government creates programmes to provide safe and affordable housing, a number of which still exists in some form to make rent affordable or present opportunities for lower income earners to secure loans to buy homes. Notwithstanding, it is the resolve and commitment of any responsive and responsible government to harness all resources and manpower at its disposal to reduce poverty and provide affordable shelter for the people of the state.
In reality, access to affordable housing has become a huge challenge in a fast-growing economy like Ogun State where potential investors have expressed willingness to open shops, almost on a daily basis, courtesy of the provision of an enabling business environment and the government’s friendly policies. This new housing scheme, especially in a state like Ogun, as envisaged by the current administration, will help to meet up the housing gap, if and when it arises.
In response to the influx of people into the state, one striking feature that is commendable on the part of the current administration 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 cater for a potential deficit in the nearest future.
The housing projects that are jointly being constructed by the Ogun State Housing Corporation, Ministry of Housing and the Ogun State Property and Investment Corporation (OPIC), speaks volumes about the giant strides the administration is taking to resolve the deficit.
The inauguration, on Thursday, July 1, 2021, of 130 housing units in ‘Prince Court Estate” located at Kemta, Idi-Aba, Abeokuta, was the first phase of the 300 detached and semi-detached of two and three-bedroom structures. This was the first in the series of housing projects being undertaken by the present administration across the state as part of the 2,500 houses to be provided in four years.
This ‘Prince Court Estate’ has been provided with amenities, such as tarred roads, water supply, good drainage system, fence, security and power supply, a model that has become incumbent on the current administration’s wholesome design for “Greater Abeokuta” as a befitting capital city.
There is no gainsaying the fact that this is part of the deliberate efforts of the government to ensure Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State, has befitting infrastructure and amenity that will make it stand out amongst its peers, not only in Nigeria, but throughout Africa. And that is what the administration is doing in collaboration with the “United Kingdom’s Future Cities Project.”
By and large, both the completed and ongoing housing projects serve as attestation of the current administration’s commitment towards infrastructural development, in general and the provision of decent shelter, in particular.
Gateway Mortgage Bank Limited, which remains a dominant player, has provided the much-needed mortgage for subscribers of the housing units.
Besides, with the state government’s interest in partnering with the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC), the future is bright for the subscribers to access a long-term loan at low interest rates.
During a recent courtesy call on the Ogun State Commissioner for Housing, Omoniyi, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, NMRC, Mr Kehinde Ogundimu, pointed out that affordable housing would continue to remain a mirage until the housing sector gets massive support from all the relevant stakeholders and join forces to make it possible.
Without equivocation, the government is poised to provide 2,500 housing units across the state in the first four-year term. This is an unbeatable figure which surpasses all the housing units all preceding administrations have provided since the creation of the state on February 3, 1976.
Meanwhile, it is good news that the recently completed second phase project, Kobape Housing Estate, located on Abeokuta-Sagamu expressway, which was constructed less than a year, is set for delivery to successful subscribers before the yuletide and New Year festivities.
Ogun State Commissioner for Housing, Jagunmolu Akande Omoniyi, who stood in, for Governor Dapo Abiodun, at an interactive session with the subscribers, noted that the housing scheme, which is a reference point in the efforts of the government in reducing housing deficit in the state, is provided with state-of-the-art infrastructure, such as electricity, water, shopping mall, health centre, Automated Teller Machine (ATM) gallery and security post. The 300-unit Kobape Housing Estate is made up of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom flats, respectively.
The standard of the structure and infrastructure provided in the first phase of the project at ‘King’s Court, Kemta, Abeokuta, nonetheless, aptly speaks volume of the interest shown by the subscribers for the ‘mad rush’ for the second phase located at Kobape, Abeokuta (Obafemi-Owode Local Government Area).
Subsequently, the moving train is expected to berth soon at Sagamu (Ogun East) for 200 units, 100 units each for Ota and Ilaro (Ogun West), respectively for the third phase of the project, in a bid to cover the three senatorial districts as promised by the governor.
Some other housing projects already completed and allocated to the successful subscribers in this class 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. And for the 92 units of three-bedroom semi-detached flats and also, the 68 units of two-bedroom apartments which was slashed from the initial N5 million to N4 million.
In the magnanimity of the administration, the government has also refunded payments to allottees of the AAK Degun Estate Laderin, Abeokuta, who had earlier made full payments. 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 6 per cent.
However, the government is not only making provisions 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.
• Ogbonnikan is media aide to Governor Dapo Abiodun
So far, out of the first phase of Kings Court Estate Kemta, Idi-Aba, Abeokuta, located within the state capital, 130 units have been fully completed with state-of-the-art infrastructure and 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, it 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 the modern household equipment in 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 make up with the targeted 12,500 units.
A year ago, at an event to commemorate the “2020 World Habitat Day with the theme; “Housing For All: A Better Urban Future” in Abeokuta, 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, a development, he averred, 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. The governor averred further that:
“For us, as an administration, in recognition of the fact that decent and affordable accommodation is a human rights issue that we have commenced our 2,500 affordable housing scheme to alleviate the crises of accommodation in our state, as well, as part of our economic sustainability. We are also in partnership with the federal government for another 10,000 Social Housing Scheme.”
Aside solving the housing deficit, the cheering development about these projects is that it has provided a 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 indicated 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 in providing lands for private investors at a 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.
Ogbonnikan is media aide to Governor Dapo Abiodun