The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has opined that President Muhammadu Buhari is leaving Nigeria better than the way he met it eight years ago.
Speaking on ARISE News on Thursday, the former Governor of Lagos State stressed that things are better in the construction industry during the Buhari administration.
Fashola stated that the contract for the repair of the tortuous Benin-Sapele-Warri road has just been awarded following the funding from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
He said: “Things are better. In the construction industry, they were laying off people when I took office, and that includes housing construction, and now they are employing more people.
“The support industry, mining for construction materials, sand aggregates, crushed tools, that industry capacity has doubled in the last eight years.
“Talking of Benin-Warri-Sapele road, we have just awarded the contract because we got funding from the NNPC. And there are other roads that we have not touched. And I understand that the ones that we have done are no longer newsworthy.
“Nigeria has a huge shelter problem, with a large number of the citizens going after the largely limited houses, making purchase and rental of accommodation extremely expensive, unaffordable and inaccessible for many Nigerians.”
Although he admitted that Nigeria has an urban housing gap, Fashola stated that the deficit data quoted by several Nigerians were non-existent.
Fashola said it is ignorant for some Nigerians to believe that the country has as much as a 17 million housing deficit, maintaining that there’s nowhere in the world where that figure exists.
He disclosed that in the past, he had reached the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), and the World Bank as well as one of his predecessors in office to authenticate the information, which he said they all disowned.
“First of all, I am not disputing what doesn’t exist. I’m just telling you that it doesn’t exist. If you have the figure and the basis for arriving at it, put it out and let us have a discussion about it.
“I am saying that the first figure that was in the public space, even when I was governor, was 17 million. When I became minister, I said, how did you arrive at it? I am here to solve problems.
“And in order to solve problems, I must diagnose and define the problems before I start implementing solutions. So if you tell me there were 17 million, how was it computed?
“And if you want to stick to a figure that doesn’t exist, I can’t really stop you. But I’m saying that we should stop. This is absolutely foolish because that figure doesn’t exist. I don’t know any nation that has a 17 million housing deficit. Please show me one,” he argued.
The minister contended that there’s no way Nigeria can have a 17 million housing deficit or even the new 28 million figure being touted.
He noted that there was a shared constitutional responsibility for housing between the federal government and the states, urging state governments to focus more on rentals.
He added: “Nobody could provide an answer to how that figure was arrived at. They first told me it was the World Bank, but the World Bank denied it, they told me it was African Development Bank, African Development Bank disclaimed it. I asked the NBS, Dr. Kale, at the time, and he said no, that wasn’t their figure and that he had doubts about the figure.
“But I finally found out that it was in a housing policy from this ministry in 2012, before my appointment, three years before my appointment, it was in the foreword of the minister. When I called her, she said, well, she just didn’t pay attention and that she was under pressure when she signed.”