A new national housing policy which envisages the construction of one million houses annually as well as boost infrastructural development in the sector has been approved by the Federal Government.
The decision, which was arrived at Wednesday at the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice-President Namadi Sambo, also sets aside the 1991 housing policy as well as the urban development policy initiated in 1997.
Addressing State House correspondents, the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, alongside his Housing and Urban Development counterpart, Ms. Amma Pepple, said the inability of the ousted policies to meet the expectations of Nigerians was why it was being changed, stating that a powerful committee to strategise on the new housing policy for the country was already in place.
Maku said: "For almost two decades, Nigeria has been struggling to bring up a new policy to facilitate the growth of housing provision in the country.
In these two decades, we had not succeeded in getting this policy through, but in the last one year the Ministry of Housing and Development reached out to all stakeholders.
It also reached out to civil society orgarnisations and the finance sector, to come out with lasting efforts to address the sector."
On her part, Pepple said: "The new national policy came after a painstaking consultation with all the stakeholders, including the organised private sector, the civil society organisations and National Economic Council (NEC). It hopes to bring about real mass housing which the country has been dreaming of. This policy emphasises the central role of the private sector, while the government concentrates on its role as a regulator.
"We believe that when you give a man shelter, you provide him with dignity. The new policy will bring about the development of about one million houses annually.
"Part of the plans is to do new cities like the new one to be established in Bwari Area Council. The committee will screen those that will build houses for the Federal Government."
She announced another high point of the new policy.
"This policy introduces a new element that this country has never witnessed before. By social housing, what it means is that every citizen counts, because it is not just for the rich, or the low income earner, but for the poorest of the poor. Indeed, it emphasises the type of housing that will ensure that all Nigerians will have shelter."
She added that the new policy will enhance job creation, noting that it is one of the most viable sources of jobs creation.
"The policy will help the country to build capacity for the sector through the establishment of skill acquisition centres in each of the six geo-political zones in the country. The policy also takes into cognisance the need for maintenance, proper planning of the environment and the need to address the issue of urban renewal and slumps upgrade; including the establishment of infrastructures in the areas.
Another aspect addressed by the new policy is that of disaster management. But over and above this, the policy hopes to drive employment and income generation in the country.
Far more than any other sector, Housing offers more opportunities for Economic growth and the growth of the Gross Domestic Product, GDP and driving income generation and welfare of the people.
The policy emphasised the central role of the private sector financing. One million houses a year. It will introduce the element of social housing to ensure that all Nigerians have a share of the pie. It also hope to drive economic growth, GDP growth. The policy explained how it will help the drive the economy and the environment. "The new policy in housing in the country will witness real growth in the economy and explosion in terms of the opportunity to create new jobs. It will also emphasised the growth in local production of housing goods," she said.
Highlight of the new policy include the introduction of mass housing, social Housing policy and is "contractor financing" in which contractors are expected to source for funds, construct houses in a partnership with the government.
Meanwhile, the Council received a report from the Federal Ministry of Water Resources on the Lake Chad Basin Commission.
The report reflect the apex government's effort reflect the effort to Lake Chad by transferring water to it from the Bangui River in Central Africa Republic. According to the report, the feasibility study for project, which was mainly paid for by Nigeria has been completed and that the project was now ready for implementation.
Pepple disclosed that the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development was working closely with state Governors in the area of enhancing urban development.