Vibrant Housing Market Will Boost Nigeria’s Economy, People’s Livelihood – Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo SAN attends as the Special Guest of Honor the 53rd Annual Nigerian Association of Law Teachers Conference on February 8, 2022. Photo: Tolani Alli.
A file photo of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Photo: Tolani Alli.

 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), has said that to address the issue of inadequate housing in the country, the Buhari administration remains determined in its vision to build a nation where low income earners have the dignity of a decent home and livelihood.

According to Professor Osinbajo, this will not only improve the quality of lives of Nigerians, but also boost the economy through a vibrant housing market.

The Vice President stated this on Friday in Masaka, Nasarawa State at the commissioning of 248 housing units and commemoration of the 1,000th home built by the Millard Fuller Foundation, MFF.

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Describing the commissioning as “a watershed event in the important work of providing housing for Nigerians who need it most”, the Vice President stated that “while the challenge of inadequate or no-housing undermines the quality of life of many Nigerians on low income, it also denies our economy and, therefore, our collective welfare the growth that is possible through a vibrant housing market.”

The Vice President emphasized that the Buhari Administration is taking the challenges seriously by addressing the concerns.

The most recent initiative regarding this is the N200 billion National Social Housing Programme under the N2.3 Trillion Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), which is aimed at delivering homes for Nigerians on low income, as well as providing jobs for the local industry.

According to Prof. Osinbajo, to ensure that these initiatives are sustained, the Federal Government is in the final draft stages of a comprehensive 10-year National Housing Strategy. The strategy is the first of its kind with input from the private and public sector players.

The VP disclosed that under the ESP Social Housing programme, which will create up to 300,000 homes, 18 States have so far given land for free, while 19,478 homes have been built, including 582 purchased from the Millard Fuller Foundation.

“We are negotiating another 400 homes with them,” Prof. Osinbajo stated, adding that “the one-bedroom self-contained costs N2 million and N3.2 million for the two-bedroom. We negotiated with Dangote, BUA and Lafarge to give the Family Homes Fund cement at 30% discount. So we now have low cost cement.”

Highlighting the Millard Fuller Foundation’s housing units in Nasarawa State as an example of private sector partnership with Government in reducing the social housing supply gap, the Vice President hoped that “it can serve as a model for many others to follow, with the potential for creating homes that are affordable to Nigerians on modest income, particularly our young people as they start out in life.”

The VP, who was received in Masaka, Nasarawa State by Governor Abdullahi Sule, later inspected the affordable housing units built by the foundation.
Speaking at the event, Governor Sule thanked the Vice President for finding the time to commission the housing units and “to share in the joy of the beneficiaries, especially those of the Fuller Foundation,” describing the gesture as a demonstration of the VP’s care for the people.

The Governor also commended the effort of the Federal Government in finding solutions to the challenge of affordable housing and gave assurances that the State Government is commitment to fixing the access road to the housing estate.

Earlier, Mr Sam Odia, the National Director of the Millard Fuller Foundation expressed appreciation for the Vice President’s presence to commission the housing units. He described the VP as a “man of his word, and a man who has a heart for the poor.”

He added that the foundation is working with the Family Homes Fund to advance the cause of social housing in Nigeria.

Also present at the event were the Managing Director of the Family Homes Fund, Mr Femi Adewole; the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Infrastructure, Ms. Imeh Okon; officials of the State and Karu Local Government Council; the Etsu Karu, HRH Luka Panya-Baba; and representatives of partners in the project, among others.

The Millard Fuller Foundation was founded in 2006 and has been working on more inclusive housing for low-income Nigerians. The Foundation is supported by the Fuller Center for Housing Inc., USA, Selavip International, Belgium, Family Homes Funds Ltd, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ). The Federal Government’s N-Power programme also partners with the MFF “as an official building skills training centre.”

Devaluation Of Naira Not Appropriate In Economic Realities – Osinbajo

Yemi-OsinbajoNigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has said that devaluation of the Naira is not an appropriate option in the current economic realities in the country and offers no solutions as far as the Buhari administration is concerned.

According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant – Media and Publicity to the Vice President, Laolu Akande, President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier expressed his views that a further devaluation of the Nigerian currency is not healthy for the Nigerian economy.

The Vice President received the Italian Ambassador in Nigeria, Mr. Fulvio Rustico and the Canadian High Commissioner in Nigeria Mr Perry John Calderwood in his office on Thursday and spoke in a similar vein about the Naira.

“I don’t agree with devaluation and it is not that I am doctrinaire about it. In the first place, it is not a solution, we are not exporting significantly. And the way things are, devaluation will not help the local economy.”

“What we need to do is to start spending more on the economy and then things will ease up a bit,” he said.

He observed that the issues around the Nigerian economy required reasonable flexibility in dealing with them.

The Vice President outlined the Federal Government’s plans to set up a $25 billion infrastructural fund which would be sourced from local and international sources including through Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund and also the pension fund among others.

He disclosed that the fund would be used to address the nation’s decaying road, rail and power infrastructures.

“This is our approach to speeding up the country’s infrastructural development,” he added.

Foreign Exchange Restriction

Professor Osinbajo also stated that the current foreign exchange restriction is a temporary measure to ensure that “we don’t deplete our foreign exchange substantially at a time when the prices of oil in the international market is dropping”.

He added that the restriction would also bring some stability to the country’s foreign reserves without which Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, might be affected.

In his reckoning, FDI is more forward looking than portfolio investments which is being affected by the decision to manage the foreign exchange resources of the country.

“I am not sure devaluation is the issue, but how to ensure foreign direct investment which is more useful,” the Vice President noted, adding that he expects a bit more stability and direction in the next few months.

He disclosed that the Federal Government would work with the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure that legitimate businesses are not badly impacted by the current foreign exchange restrictions, especially those who have previous contracts and loan commitments.

He expressed the appreciation of the Federal Government to both envoys on behalf of President Buhari and also said that he looked forward to closer and deeper ties between Nigeria and the two countries.

A delegation of top executives from Citigroup led by Mr. Jim Cowles also paid a courtesy call on the Vice President earlier on Thursday.