Fed ministry fails to keep records of houses built, sold in six years

  • Over N250b received by housing ministry
  • Housing agencies exonerate selves from poor bookkeeping
  • Anti-corruption agencies blamed for lack of monitoring
  •  Sector reflects nation’s opaque budgeting, governance, says CSJ
  • Housing industry needs reform, audit, says CODE
  • Activists seek N’Assembly public hearing on ministry


Despite budgeting billions of naira for new housing schemes, the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing has no record of homes built and sold in six years under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Efforts by The Guardian to obtain the records for over three months proved abortive as the ministry’s Department of Public Buildings and Housing kept dilly-dallying and shying away from its promise to make the documents available.

The Special Adviser on Communications to the Minister of Works and Housing, Hakeem Bello, told The Guardian that the information could only be obtained from the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN).

When The Guardian contacted officials of FMBN, they denied been involved in the budget processes and keeping such records. FMBN Group Head, Corporate Communications, Lawal Isah, said: “The houses we handle are funded by the bank. We do not have information on houses built by the ministry. FMBN has access only to the National Housing Fund (NHF) that it manages.”

Sources in FHA also disclosed that the agency has not been under budgetary allocation.

Just last weekend, the Minister of Works and Housing, Raji Fashola, said during an inspection tour of the Federal Government Housing project situated on the Ibadan-Oyo Expressway that the Federal Government was committed and passionate about solving housing deficit in the country. The housing project is made up of 72 units.

Victor Alonge, former director of London-based firm, Wilmont Chartered Surveyors, blamed the failure of policies and government housing agencies for social housing failure in the country. He said the housing sector should be a major catalyst in the development of the economy.

“In the United States, this sector contributes over 60 per cent and in United Kingdom the same, but unfortunately, it contributes barely five per cent to the GDP in Nigeria. And it is due to the myriads of bottlenecks that make investment in the sector unattractive. Take for instance, the issue of land documentation and titling and the challenges associated with the Land Use Act.”

On the housing deficit of about 17 million in the country, Alonge said the housing delivery framework and the procurement process were designed to fail. “Direct delivery of housing by government should be a thing of the past because it has never helped. It is a major avenue for corruption. If government said they invested N10 billion into the housing sector, the real value will be about N5 billion.

“Look at the FHA for instance, after about four decades what has been its impact? l can assure you that they may not have built over 50,000 houses across the federation. In fact, I doubt if they are anywhere near the figure, how will they get it? Does it make good investment sense to invest the kind of money that has been put into FHA since inception with little or nothing to write home about? How many people will they claim to have housed across the nation? If we take a cursory look at the amount that government claimed to have invested in the agency and its achievement over time, it is nothing but a complete waste of resources.”

Currently, stakeholders have been calling for the re-examining of the policy on privatisation of FHA with a view to commercialising the authority to compete with other players in the industry in the provision of mass housing, despite receiving funding support through budgetary allocation.

With its poor record keeping attitude and lack of accountability, the ministry may have fallen back to the old times, giving credence to industry players’ notion that the Federal Government should not engage in direct construction of houses, but provide enabling environment for the private sector to handle low-cost housing projects.

According to the National Housing Policy, a major drawback in past attempts at revamping the housing and urban development sectors to deliver sustainable housing systems and efficient urban development and management in the country, was the absence of clear focus in the pursuit of the mandate of the ministry.

“The multifaceted and multidisciplinary nature of the ministry coupled with the roles in regulation of standards, prescription codes and such other measures put the ministry on collision path with other Federal Government agencies. Also the non-involvement of stakeholders and near exclusion of the private sector investors in housing and service delivery robbed the sector of necessary competition and efficiency needed for stability.

“The inability of governments alone to fund the provision of housing and urban development therefore leaves a big vacuum and massive need, which cannot be met in the sector,” the policy stated.

Specifically, The Guardian investigation revealed that the ministry has received over N250 billion between 2015 and 2020 from the budget. The six-year breakdown shows that in 2016, of the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing total budget of N433 billion, N268 billion, representing 62 per cent, was allotted to works, N99 billion, an equivalent of 23 per cent, to power, and N66 billion, representing 15 per cent, to housing.

In 2016, the ministry planned the construction of 1,973 blocks of 7,068 housing units in the six geo-political zones and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) at a cost of N44.5 billion. The government also earmarked N2,515,013,517 for the payment of local contractors debt and failed land transactions.

Similarly, the authorities proposed completion of infrastructure such as roads and drains for social housing scheme at Oron, Akwa Ibom State; Keffi in Nassarawa State; and Nkwubor in Enugu State at a cost of N540 million. There was also provision for the completion of prototype housing scheme in Suleja in Niger State with appropriation of N800 million.

About N1.630 billion was earmarked by the ministry for the construction and furnishing of ministerial quarters, comprising four-bedroom semi-detached duplexes with boys quarter and other ancillary building and services.

Source: The Guardian (6/5/2021)

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