The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Tuesday, in Abuja, said his regime had delivered change to Nigerians, especially in the area of affordable housing.
Appraising his regime’s performance in office during the inauguration of a housing estate in Zuba, Abuja, on Tuesday, the President claimed that the new housing estate was addressing multidimensional poverty among the citizens.
But the opposition parties described his claims as bogus, insisting that he performed woefully.
Presenting keys to the new homeowners at the Federal Housing Authority, Zuba, Buhari said, “I convey my hearty congratulations to the new homeowners in this estate. Our promise of change has been fulfilled for you.’’
The President also said the new housing estate was addressing multidimensional poverty as the beneficiaries had “taken a step up on the ladder of prosperity and away from poverty.’’
The PUNCH reports that the N9.5bn estate, which is located on 18.5 hectares of land, consists of 16 blocks of three-bedroom flats in a block of eight flats, 32 blocks of two-bedroom flats in a block of eight flats; 14 blocks of one-bedroom flats in a block of 16 flats and five blocks of terrace duplexes in four rows.
Buhari, who has less than 27 days left in office, pointed out that investments in housing created employment opportunities for artisans and other skilled members of society.
He urged residents of the estate to consciously work together with the FHA to ensure the maintenance of the property and the safety of the environment.
He stated, ‘’Housing supply is one of the indices of multidimensional poverty that challenges our people and the completion of this estate provides a solution for the beneficiaries.
‘‘The new homeowners who benefit from this estate have taken a step up on the ladder of prosperity and away from poverty.
‘‘One of the measures that we have consciously deployed to attack poverty, create prosperity and develop our economy is the aggressive provision of infrastructure nationwide.
Commending the Chairman, Managing Director, Members of the Board and Staff of FHA on the successful completion of the estate, the President noted that the project was another testament to his regime’s commitment to lifting people out of poverty.
On his part, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said 75 contractors were engaged in the project, while over 13,000 Nigerians were employed both directly and indirectly.
He also thanked the President for providing leadership through his approval of appointments to the leadership of the FHA Board and Management.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Office of FHA, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, described the project as a manifestation of the regime’s deliberate housing policy in line with the promise of providing shelter to Nigerians.
He said the Authority delivered the project at a total cost of N9.5bn with the subvention of N7.5bn from the Federal Government.
The balance of N2bn of construction cost came from the Authority’s other projects, which were ploughed to complete the estate.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Board of Directors, FHA, Senator Shuaibu Lawal, thanked the President for providing the grant of N7.5bn for the project to commence in May 2018.
But the Peoples Democratic Party, Labour Party and Social Democratic Party took a swipe at the President over his self-commendation, saying Nigerians did not take him seriously anymore.
The PDP National Secretary, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, said, “Here is a man who promised to fight insecurity. Is the country safe and secure today? He said he would fight corruption and revive the economy. What is the situation today? The man has nothing more to offer apart from laying claims to achievements that no one is aware of.”
The Chief Spokesman for the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, Yunusa Tanko, believed Buhari’s latest action was a clear display of mediocrity and ineptitude.
He noted, “How can he say that when many people are living under bridges? Is he even aware of how many people we have in IDP camps that have not been resettled? I am sorry to say this. But this is mediocrity and ineptitude at play.
“There is no justification for probably providing housing for all. We are far behind in terms of deficit. President Buhari’s statement is not justifiable, please. Giving himself a pass mark at this stage is self-gratifying.”
NNPP slams Buhari
The New Nigeria People’s Party National Publicity Secretary, Dr Major Agbo, questioned the propriety of Buhari’s praise of his regime, adding that Nigerians would praise him if he had done well.
He stated, “We are all Nigerians. If there is anything tangible enough for us to agree that he has done well, it will not be hidden. It will be there publicly for everybody to see. The question is, what are Nigerians saying? Everybody appears to be on one page. This government has not done well.”
On his part, the SDP National Publicity Secretary, Rufus Aiyenigba said Buhari should be ashamed for making such a false claim.
He said, “For us in the SDP, we consider it unthinkable that the President would in good conscience, claim any form of fulfilment, considering the monumental failures and the many downsides of his 8-year administration. He should be ashamed.
“In the history of contemporary Nigeria, we have not had it this bad in almost all segments of our national life. Nigerians have not been this despondent, frustrated, divided and polarized along ethnic and religious faultlines.
‘’Nigerians have not felt this unsafe and traumatized since after the civil war; the nation’s economy has not been this bad and the purchasing power of average Nigerians have never been this low in the last three decades.’’
However, the APC Director of Publicity, Bala Ibrahim, argued that the APC had done well and berated the opposition parties for ‘’always belittling the achievements and giant stride of the President.’’
He stated, “I think it is unfair for anybody to say the President has not done remarkably well in the area of housing. This is one regime that has come with a special ministry that lays emphasis on housing, and infrastructure for the provision of accommodation and made access to loans for housing easier and more realistic. Not only has the FG empowered mortgage banks, but it has also made the conditions for the provision of collateral to get housing loans less cumbersome.
“Now, you need to look at the challenge the world has faced as a result of COVID-19 and the loss in price of oil. Yet, in spite of the challenges of this internally generated revenue, the housing sector is one area that has not been drastically affected. Rather, the government remains on course to ensure that housing is available and affordable.
“Go to the North-East where an entire community was wiped out and people forced to live in IDPs. But yet, through the assistance of the FG, the governors of those states were able to provide accommodation for the people, rehabilitate and reintegrate them back into the community.
Commenting on the housing deficit in the country, the President of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, Enyi Ben-Eboh, said Buhari could only appraise his government if they delivered what was promised.
He said with the number of housing deficits in the country, plans should be made to build more houses for the populace.
On his part, the President of the Nigerian Institute of Building, Yohana Izam, said in terms of quantity and quality, the target had not been met.
He said, “The government has provided houses in so many states across the federation, however, the quantity and qualities are below expectation, and we hope the incoming government will do more in terms of providing affordable housing for the people.
“We at the institute of building are very worried that the quality is nothing to write home about, that contractors would be engaged and deliver such poor quality is very sad. In addition, these houses are there but low patronage because of the quality has not met the desired expectation, and the high prices, especially that the houses were not properly constructed.”
According to him, with the minimum wage at N30,000, the general thinking is that low-income earners had still not been captured in the affordability bracket.
“So, we either have to go down with the prices of the houses using technology and innovation, bringing in construction materials that will bring down the cost of houses, or increasing the minimum wages or increasing the standard of living generally.
“This should be a challenge for the incoming administration to ensure that houses meet the desired expectation in the country.”