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IMPLICATION OF GOVERNMENT HOUSING POLICIES ON THE PROVISION OF AFFORDABLE AND ADEQUATE HOUSING IN AKWA IBOM STATE, NIGERIA
1.1 Background to the Study
Housing is one of the three basic needs of man and it is the most important for the physical survival of man after the provision of food (Turner, 1983; Munonye, 2009). It has a profound influence on the health, efficiency, social behaviour, satisfaction and general welfare of the community. Okedele et al (2009), opined that in the evaluation of man’s comfort, growth and development, it is inevitable that housing be considered as a critical element.
Housing is a basic necessity of life without prejudice for economic condition. In spite of this, housing problem is universal. In Nigeria it exists in urban and rural places. Housing problem in urban places takes the form of slum dwelling, homelessness, overcrowding, squatter settlements and substandard housing units. In the rural areas, poor quality of housing, poor environmental condition as well as inadequate infrastructural facilities are the order of the day.
This issue was highlighted at the United Nations conference on Human Settlement (Habitat 1) which was held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in June, 1996; during the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless in 1987 and at the Habitat II Conference held at Istanbul, Turkey in June 1996. These emphasize the importance of providing adequate and affordable houses in every human society and dispensation.
The United Nations Organization (UNO) (1996), affirms this by declaring that housing is very crucial to the survival, welfare and health of individuals. Consequently, serious attention has been given in many developing countries to housing problems and housing policies to address the problems. Among such basic housing challenges are the twin issue of affordability and adequacy of housing to a greater number of the populace.
Housing policy is one of the ways of tackling housing problems. In this sense, the Nigerian Housing Policy was promulgated in 1991 in order to address housing problems. The programmes of action in the policy include construction technology, housing finance, land and infrastructure, building materials, labour management, housing allocation, monitoring and review. The Nigerian housing policy was well conceived with the fundamental elements of feasibility, affordability and limited time frame required for the completion of the programmes. To some extents, the various policies and programmes of housing in Nigeria have been able to make significant improvements in housing production and delivery.
The housing policies provided guidelines for housing construction, maintenance and delivery. Nevertheless, the policies and programmes are plagued by shortcomings like poverty, ever-increasing costs of construction and building materials, homelessness, weak institutional frameworks for housing delivery, administrative bottlenecks in plan approval and collection of certificate of occupancy, programme monitoring as well as review.
Akwa Ibom State ranks among the rapidly urbanizing states in Nigeria, with a rapidly growing population. While, the challenges therein, lies in the provision of adequate and affordable housing services (Madu, 2016). With a population of 5 million people plus, Akwa Ibom State faces the dire challenge of meeting the corresponding housing needs of her teeming population. Since its creation, governments had embarked on several housing intervention programmes, with the objective of making housing available and affordable to the majority of the population but with little success.
These housing interventions are reflected in the annual budgetary provisions for housing urban development, and in the establishment of institutional framework for housing development (Diogu et al, 2006). According to Aribigbola, (2009) despite the various efforts of government, individuals and agencies both locally and internationally to improve housing provision in Akwa Ibom State, housing problems particularly shortage and affordability still persist. This lends credence to the growing international concern over the issue.
According to the national Rolling plan, the national housing requirement is between 500,000 and 600,000 units, considering the prevailing occupancy ratio of three and four per room (Ojenuwah,2006). As Muoghalu (1999) puts it, the rapid population increases coupled with the rate of urbanization which have contributed in no small way to the shortage of urban housing in Nigeria.
Madu (2016) thus rightly observed that one of the notable challenges that the state’s housing policy faces is the huge gap between housing needs and the provision of such housing to the people. This gap is accentuated by the inadequacy and the lack of affordability especially among the average and low income bracket in Akwa Ibom State.The income of the average Nigerian is usually not adequate to meet his needs to own a house of his choice or rent an apartment of his taste. Some other challenges faced by Nigerians on housing affordability as enumerated by Onyike, (2007) are cost of land and building materials, high interest rates on mortgages, poorly developed mortgage finance system, administrative bottlenecks that makes the processing and securing of approvals for building plans, Certificates of Occupancy and other necessary government permits a nightmare, and the unmitigated corruption in the allocation of government land.
All these afore-mentioned issues thus inform the necessity to study government housing policies in terms of the provision of affordable and adequate housing in Akwa Ibom State.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
One of the reoccurring challenges posed by unprecedented urbanization in developing countries, such as Nigeria, is the provision of adequate and affordable housing. Since independence the Nigerian government have come up with one policy or the other aimed at ensuring adequate and affordable housing for its teeming population, but with little success (Ogu and Ogbuozobe, 2001)
According to the 2006 Census, Nigeria has a population of over 140 million people, and working with this figure, providing adequate and affordable housing in Nigeria is definitely an issue of dire national importance. Going by the estimates of the Federal Housing Authority, new housing construction in Nigeria is about 10,000 units a year. To meet ever-growing demand, the country needs ten times more or at least 100,000 new housing units annually.
Existing housing stock in Nigeria is so poor, yet studies show a direct correlation between affordable housing and better living standard. Recent pronouncement by the Institute of Architects that Nigeria could achieve a housing target of 40,000 units annually is quite realistic, but actualization of this goal is another matter, (Peterside, 2005) what with a seeming lack of willingness by the government agencies in charge of housing to tackle this problem as well as politicization of housing schemes (Adejumo, 2008).
Nigeria’s housing needs have been high as a result of population growth, which has averaged 3.0 per cent per annum, rapid urbanization due to rural-urban migration, the high cost of building materials, ineffective and insincere housing policies, etc. Nigeria’s drive toward “housing for all”, as contained in the National Housing Policy, which aims at providing affordable housing for all, has so far been what it is – all on paper and no serious effort, deliberately or otherwise, at implementation and continues to be an illusion and a frustration to the larger population (Adejumo, 2008).
Successive efforts to meet every set target have failed as housing deficit now stands at over 16 million units in Nigeria. The target date for accomplishing the “housing for all” has shift from one administration to the other since 1999 (Peterside, 2003)