The acting managing director/chief executive of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Mr. Umaru Gonto, in this interview with CHIKA OKEKE, provided insight on why the agency is building for no-income Nigerians.
What are the major challenges faced by FHA in executing its mass housing project?
One of the major challenges we are having is funding. We intend to do a lot of projects but we are limited with funding. For now, the government has opened a window for mass housing projects in Abuja which is the Abuja mass housing project.
Also, we intend to extend the project to other sites. We are already doing the procurement process of Bwari project, and also trying to access our land that is being processed by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA). We already have Lugbe federal housing estate, but additional project for Lugbe Phase 2 has been granted, so we will commence construction at the site as soon as possible.
Apart from these, we are building another one in Kwali, to be known as social housing for the vulnerable, low income and non-income earners. The provision of those houses in Kwali are targeted at them (vulnerable people).
We also intend to collaborate and engage all security agencies because of the situation of the site. We have been talking to Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS); Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) to be our off takers at our Kwail project.
For the Abuja mass housing, it will eventually be replicated in all the geo-political zones of the country. We submitted the proposal to the minister of power, works and housing, Babatunde Fashola, after his inspection of the Zuba mass housing project during his first tenure.
The minister is of the view that, we need to replicate such a project to other sites. He was very excited about the success story there and got carried away by the housing projects he saw and said there is the need to extend such project in the six geo -political zones of the country.
Now that the minister was re-appointed for his second tenure alongside his new minister of state for works and housing, Engr Abubakar Aliyu, who also inspected the Zuba mass housing project recently, we presented a copy of that proposal to him. We are targeting to start with six sites for now and eventually reach out to all the 36 states. Meanwhile, for Abuja mass housing, we have started building at three sites already, once we complete the project in Zuba, Bwari will be the next, then Lugbe.
How can the non-income earners own houses without contributions?
The social housing programme is actually a programme of the government and in every society, it is the responsibility of the government to provide such type of houses to its citizens. The no-income earners are Nigerians too and they are entitled to that.
For example, the FHA has an estate in Lagos called Isheri- Olofin. We made provisions for no- income people that have health challenges. For the physically challenged, we made provision for them, as about 10 units of houses were given to them free of charge through their association; these are the no -income kind of group we are targeting.
Can you expatiate more on the low and non-income social housing project?
Apart from the mass housing that we said we are already doing, there is also a window in FHA that attracts social housing. By social housing, we intend to reach out to low and non-income in the society.
We have been approaching them through cooperative societies and organisations, though not necessarily government organisations but even individuals that have cooperatives.
For instance, spare parts dealers, building materials dealers and all other cooperatives, even tailors and mechanics cooperatives can come to FHA and approach the department of cooperative housing.
Already, we have been speaking with a lot of stakeholders that want us to assist them with social housing. The social housing project like I said takes care of low and non-income earners.
This social housing is a role given to us through the National Housing Policy (NHP) in addition to what we are doing. We can also intervene to make sure that apart from the low income earners, we will take care of medium and high income earners. Our project in Guzape is targeted at the high income earners because there are blocks of luxury flats and duplex apart from the one we have in Apo, all in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
For this social housing, different cooperatives are being reached out to, depending on the size of the cooperatives and their contributions. When they come in, we have FHA primary mortgage bank that has been going to Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), to access money under the National Housing Fund (NHF). Once you are a contributor to the NHF, you can always reach out to our FHA mortgage bank to help access the house and they will structure the repayment plan through mortgages.