UN Charges Buhari On Housing
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Adequate Housing, Ms Leilana Fartha has urged the federal government of Nigeria to urgently look into the housing deficit in the country.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, Ms Fartha urged the government to impose vacant home taxes with a view to addressing housing challenges in the country.
She lamented that several unoccupied luxury houses are springing up across the nation while many poor Nigerians are struggling with accommodation problems or challenges of paying rent, particularly in the urban settlements.
In her words: “Most residents in Nigeria’s ballooning informal settlements live without access to even the most basic services, like running water.
“And they lack any security of tenure, forcing them to live in constant fear of being evicted.
“My 10 days fact findings visit to Nigeria has presented an economic inequality in the country, which has reached extreme level and is playing itself out clearly in the housing sector.
“There is an estimated housing shortage of 22 million units.
“At the same time, newly built luxury dwellings are springing up throughout cities and made possible often through the forced eviction of poor communities.
“These units do not fulfill any housing need, with many remaining vacant as vehicles for money laundering or investment.’’
She urged the Federal Government to take urgent measures to address human right issues connected with homelessness, shelter, and rent, further proposing National Assembly laws that could defend the vulnerable in the society.
“Government must address the grossly inadequate housing conditions with the urgency and rigour befitting a human rights crisis of this scale.
“Apart from establishing a national commission to investigate gross human rights violations in the context of forced evictions, the government should provide basic services to all informal settlements.
“And must increase the number of shelters for persons in situations of vulnerability,’’ Fartha said.
She added that “It is unfortunate that the bill died in NASS.
“The idea of controlling rent caps is hotly debated in many countries.
“New York just tried to have rent control laws passed; Barcelona is close to getting rent free as rent is actually frozen for some period of five to seven years.
“So, in many jurisdictions, they have started to impose vacant home tax.
“I support that kind of move from human rights point of view only where that money from the tax is directly put into the creation of affordable housing.
“In the case of Nigeria it could be used as a fund to upgrade informal settlements.
“I don’t like a tax and you never see where the tax is going.
“There are other measures that can be explored, there are situations where homes are misappropriated given that the government has all the lands in trust.’’
Naija News understands Fartha will present a comprehensive report of her visit to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2020.