Monday, 21 March 2016

We Can Provide Nigerians with 1Million Houses Annually Through Collaboration -- Buhari


President Muhammadu Buhari says the present administration can provide Nigerians with one million houses annually through collaboration with the 22 APC-controlled states and the private sector. The President said this while declaring open a two-day National Economic Council’s retreat in Abuja on Monday.

He said the Federal Government would provide 250,000 units and the 22 APC-controlled states would together provide 250,000 houses while the foreign investors and their local partners would provide the other half a million.

``Some estimates put Nigeria’s housing deficit at about 16 million units.

``In our successful campaign to win the general election last year our party, the APC, promised to build a million housing units a year.

``This will turn out to be a very tall order unless the Federal Government builds 250,000 units, and the 22 APC States together manage another 250,000 units.

``We invite foreign investors together with locally-domiciled big construction companies to enter into commercial housing building to pick up the rest.’’

The President said that the most frequent public concerns brought to his attention were: Severe shortage of housing; high rents; and unaffordable prices for middle and low-income earners.

``In addition, red tape, corruption and plain public service inefficiency lead to long delays in obtaining ownership of title documents.

``Again, there are no long term funding sources for mortgage purposes.

``These hurdles are by no means easy to scale, but we must find solutions to the housing deficit.’’

Buhari, therefore, said government would review the relevant laws to make the process of acquiring statutory right of occupancy shorter, less cumbersome and less costly.

He added that court procedures for mortgage cases should make enforcement more efficient while the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing should upgrade its title registration system for greater efficiency.

The President also said transparent processes and procedures were necessary for achieving affordable housing for all Nigerians apart from developing strong and enduring mortgage institutions.

He said that the nation’s Mortgage Re-financing Company, when fully operational, should ensure adequate support for mortgage financing.

Buhari recalled his inauguration speech in May 2015 where he remarked that the whole field of Medicare in the country needed government attention noting that the shortcomings in the health sector was endless.

He explained that sound health system was part of the prerequisites for accelerated economic development.

``Nigerians travel abroad, spending an estimated $1 billion annually to get medical treatment.

``Despite huge oil revenues the nation’s health sector remains undeveloped.

``In attacking the challenges of this sector, we must start with more funding for health centres to improve service delivery.

``World Bank and World Health Organisation (WHO) could be persuaded to increase their assistance.’’

Buhari called for the strengthening of public health campaign to promote environmental sanitation, stopping smoking habits, better dieting and exercising.

He further called for screening and early diagnosis of diseases in order to ensure secondary level prevention

He urged the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control(NAFDAC) to intensify efforts toward reducing or stopping influx and circulation of fake drugs in Nigeria.

The President also advised the Federal Ministry of Health to work closely with the Nigerian Medical Association to ensure the elimination quacks from the nation’s healthcare delivery system.

Buhari stressed the need for the participants to understand how other countries transformed their economies and livelihoods of their people during their interactions with the experts and other resource persons.

He said it was also the government’s expectation that the two-day retreat would highlight the respective roles and responsibilities of each tier of government in adopting and implementing agreed policy initiatives.

``I hope this retreat will come up with practical, viable solutions and recommendations as we chart a course for our nation in this turbulent domestic and international economic environment.’’

Earlier, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the retreat was extremely necessary in order to find practical solutions to the great challenges thrown up by the Nigerian economy.

Osinbajo noted that there was no doubt that both the Federal and State governments ``realised that our economic situation is worsened by our over-dependence on oil revenue and the failure to diversify our economies sufficiently.’’

He said unnecessarily high cost of governance, leakages and inefficiencies had been tolerated for too long.

Osinbajo said only diversification of the economy was the answer in view of the dwindling revenue allocations occasioned by low and unstable oil prices.

``The nightmare scenario of extremely low and unstable oil prices, poor infrastructure, and plummeting allocations is already upon us.

``So, what exactly will work? What if oil prices fall even lower and we are getting 50 per cent less from FAAC than we collected the last month.

``What if your state were a country without oil or other natural resources? How would you cope?

``Diversification of revenue earning sources is clearly the most obvious solution, especially the promotion of exports.’’

Osinbajo said that investing in agriculture to ensure self-sufficiency in rice, oil palm, and wheat would go a long way to improving Nigeria’s situation.

He added that investing in solid minerals production, reducing the cost of governance and aggressive tax revenue generation can further increase the country’s economic fortunes.

(NAN)

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