By Obas Esiedesa
The Minister Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has sought strong support from state governments to deliver housing to Nigerians using the new National Cooperatives Housing scheme introduced by the Federal Government.
Fashola who spoke at the 8th National Council on Lands, Housing and Urban Development in Abuja on Thursday, said because the Land Use Act vests land ownership with the state governors and the Minister of FCT, their buy-in was critical to the success of the Federal Government programme.
He therefore urged states to approve land allocations to cooperatives and have their building plans approved.
He said: “Let me point out that of all the National Councils that I know, I cannot recall easily any council for which the need for federal government and state government collaboration is so pivotal and defining for success like this Council for Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
“This is due to many reasons, not the least of which is the Land Use Act, which vests control of lands in the territory of each state in the governor; and in minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the case of the FCT.
“Added to this is the fact that the Supreme Court has decided since 2003, that urban planning and development control is the sole responsibility of the state governments in their territory, and that of the FCT in Abuja (34 states).
“In other words, the use of land, whether for a house, office, market, school, hospital, petrol filling station or any other purpose is a matter solely for the state government”.
The Minister however pointed out that “housing is a social, developmental and economic objective of the federal government who cannot own land, unless allocated by the state government, and who cannot build unless urban planning department of states approve the development”.
He disclosed that presently about a thousand person work in its housing sites across 34 states, stressing similar success could be achieved using the cooperative housing scheme.
In his opening remarks the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammad Musa Bello represented by Engr. Umar Gambo Jibrin, the Executive Secretary Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCDA), said, the theme for this year’s council was pertinent considering the housing deficit challenge the country is currently facing and the lack of financing to tackle it.
He said that, as one of the fastest growing cities in the world, FCT has a major problem of shortage of housing.
While calling on Financial Houses to make a long financing opportunities to address challenges in the housing sector, Bello said that, the process of land administration was transparent and that the Federal Capital Territory Administration was working to ease the collection of certificates of occupancies (C of Os).
Delivering his goodwill message, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Housing, Senator Sam Egwu said the responsibility of any Government was to provide affordable houses for its citizens.
“We at the National Assembly will provide the legislative support to move the housing sector forward. We are ready to work on any bill sent to us”, he said.