President Muhammadu Buhari and the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, on Thursday, commissioned 68 housing units, under the National Housing Programme (NHP) Phase 1, in Uhunmwonde Local Government Area of Edo State.
Obaseki, at the unveiling of the units, called for increased collaboration between the state and federal governments, as well as other stakeholders to address the housing deficit in the country.
The governor said, “As the National Bureau of Statistics has shown, we have over twenty million housing deficit in Nigeria, which means that very many Nigerians are living without proper shelter. The World Bank recommends at least a million homes annually to bridge this gap.
"But due to limited resources and economic challenges, it is difficult for us to attain this goal. It is very important to encourage all partners, particularly the federal government, that collaboration is very key. While we congratulate them and appreciate what they have done, we are saying that the road ahead is very long.
"The pace at which we are going is very slow. We need to change the strategy; 65 units of housing after nine years of construction will not solve our problems. We need to do more, and as a state, we are going to collaborate with the federal government to achieve the desired goals.”
He added, "While considering the gains of this project, it’s pertinent to note and underscore the need to develop other aspects of the housing industry that will help us move at a much faster pace and one of them is mortgages. Unless we introduce a virile, realistic, and affordable mortgage arrangement we will not be able to develop housing as we want to.
“For us in Edo, we are very committed to housing projects. As we speak, we have about four projects which we are working on already.”
Obaseki continued: "We are prepared to work with all partners including the federal government and communities to make sure that we take the issue of housing development very seriously. We would like to collaborate with the federal government. We hope that the next phase will not be developed the way this one has been developed.
"We have more land, so we shouldn't be doing housing like this on four hectares. We have more land to give to you; we also understand some of the challenges you faced, but those challenges can be overcome. We need to collaborate closely.
“I believe that the dream of the federal government to tackle her housing deficit will be best accomplished with a closer working collaboration with states so that we can jointly build houses for Nigerians at the rate which we need to build. If we go on at this rate, half of us will be on the street.”
In his contribution, President Buhari, who was represented by Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, commended the state government for providing the land and the host community for their cooperation in ensuring the project is completed.
"This is a benefit of inter-government collaboration despite the political divide. This is one of the first phases of the several phases of the Federal Government Housing projects since 2016.”