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HOUSING THEHOMELESS NIGERIANSShelter is one of the three basic necessities of life. It isin recognizing this reality that, our constitution in section (16) subsection(2d) states: “The state shall direct its policy towards ensuring--that suitable and adequate shelter, suitable andadequate food, reasonable national minimum living wage, old age care andpensions, and unemployment, sick benefits and welfare of the disabled areprovided for all citizens” However, it was in keeping faith with his oath of officethat President Good Luck Jonathan recently ordered for the construction of onemillion housing units annually in the country so as sure up the shortfalls inthe nation's housing sector. It is however on records that, the currentadministration inherited a housing deficit of about 16 million which pastauthorities in the country made little or no efforts in addressing. Thelackadaisical attitude shown to one of the most important needs of man in thepast,

contributed to factors that have made millions of Nigerians to becomehobos in their own fatherland. So, it is understandable why some cynicalNigerians expressed doubts over the workability of such Presidential order.Some even said that it is part of the grand plan to make the President lookmore appealing to the broad spectrum of the society ahead of his rumored planto seek re-election in 2015 Presidential Election! It is unfortunate that Nigeria is a country where one soiledfinger affects others. If not so, how can we relate the hallowing experience ofNigerians who wanders around with little or no place to call their home to apresidential election that is still far away in 2015? Ordinarily, I would havepaid a sealed lip to the melting pot of cynics which some Nigerians arecurrently embroil in, but because there is a call that is above all calls,which is the call of conscience, I have decided to pen down my thoughts on thesubject matter above. The

Federal Ministry of Lands and Housing has the plan of buildingmass housing projects for artisans, medium and low-income earners and othercategory of Nigerians. To achieve this, the Federal Government must partnerwith both the state governments and local governments in the country, becausethe Land Use Acts of 1978 only recognizes two rights of occupancies which are;Statutory Right of Occupancy and Customary Right of Occupancy. While the StatutoryRight of Occupancy is under the controlof the state government or governor who holds the land in trust for the people,the Customary Right of Occupancy is under the control of the local government.As of now, we have 36 states plus the Federal Capital Territory FCT, and wehave 774 Local Governments in the country. Now, if we truly feel the pains ofthe homeless Nigerians as we vaingloriously claim on the pages of newspapers,radio and television stations, we will drop politics aside and work for therealization of

the president's targets. For goodness sake, what is one millionhousing units per year? If leaders at the various levels of governments acrossthe country should be more interested in walking the walk than talking thetalks, the combination of the 36 States plus FCT and the 774 Local Governmentsin Nigeria is 811. And if you divide the one million housing targets by 811,you get 1,233 housing units per year. With about 17 million housing deficits inNigeria, it means within 17 years, the housing problems currently faced byNigerians would have been conquered! Nonetheless, if the governors will not use their influenceon the various States Assemblies to block the plan by the Constitution ReviewCommittee (CRC) to remove the Land Use Acts from the constitution, it will alsohelp in the speedy administration of land matters in Nigeria, thereby encouraging private investors to come in tothe housing sector because it has been established that, apart

fromagriculture, which is the highest employer of labour, the housing sector is thesecond largest employer of labour force. When this happens, we can imagine howthe burgeoning rate of unemployment could in the country would be drasticallyreduced. Therefore, the ball is rolling on the courts of our leaders,and am happy that, the major opposition parties in the country have one or twostates under their control. So, any party that plays politics with the allimportant directive from the President will have no accusing finger to point in2015 general elections, because Nigerians can no longer be swayed by mererhetoric. Comrade Edwin Ekene is the National President of YoungNigerians for Change.No.29, Ben Mbamalu Crescent, Achara Layout, Enugu State.07065862479, [email protected]

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Edwin Uhara and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by Edwin Uhara