By ABUBAKAR YUSUF
The Federal Housing Authority FHA established in 1973 during the military administration of General Yakubu Gowon (Rtd), with military decree that was later regularized with an act of the National Assembly was one of Nigeria’s legacy projects, that had guaranteed peace, unity and development aside the primary aim of providing shelter to all Nigerians.
The position he reiterated five decades after the establishment of the sole provider of government houses to the populace, calling for more funding , expansion of it’s activities and more exploration that will mitigate provision of houses to ordinary Nigerians during the last Golden Jubilee anniversary in 2023.
According to the former Nigeria leader , his joy knew no bound that both the former leadership and current management of FHA realised the importance of not only the agency , but it’s achievements scattered all round the country, that was worth celebrating.
Filled with emotions , General Yakubu Gowon who lauded the current management under the leadership of Senator Gbenga Ashafa for bringing together both past leaders , current ones local and international stakeholders in the development of housing for all in the country to one fold , to chart a new course for the continuous provision of more houses to ordinary Nigerians.
He further said In his address, (former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd)), “providing shelter to Nigerians is still a priority today as it was 50 years ago, and even more, so in view of rapid population growth. Commending the FHA for its efforts and achievements of the decades, Gowon noted that there so much more work to do.”
According to the former Nigerian leader, “My joy is not only building structure as shelter and abode for Nigerians, the program has been able to guarantee peace, unity and development across the country, having bring together people from different parts of the country in terms of religion, tribes, cultures among other diversities, while advising the current administration of Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu not to derail from the legacies of the founding fathers.
Also the immediate past Minister of Works, Housing and Power under President Buhari’s dispensation between 2015-2019, Raji Babatunde Fashola applauded the digitisation process adopted by the new FHA in land matters among others , stating that funding among other private participation and rejigging of the act establishing the FHA is desiring.
He did not mince words by calling for more interventions, funding and attention to the Federal Housing Authority FHA, stating that the establishment of Ministry of Housing and Urban Development was the right decision that will stimulate policies that will guarantee more improvement in FHA and other agencies under the Ministry.
The duo commended the leadership of FHA under Ashafa particularly the completion of 748 Zuba Estates, an intervention program of the government, and ongoing Bwari Estates, stressing that with the current management, there is need for government not only to do more, but provide both enabling environment among others for FHA to continue to blossom.
Akcnowledging the giant strides in FHA in the area of provision of housing, the National Assembly leadership under Senator Godswill Akpabio who was represented by the Chairman , Senate Committee on Hosusing, Senator Aminu Waziri Tambuwal maintained that the National Assembly will not hesitate in the brisk amendment of the act, provide enabling laws , but reminded the agency that the new Ministry was established to provide more funds, more activities and justify the efforts of the current leadership, there by giving room for expansion, competition and more initiatives that will see ordinary Nigerians have access to shelter.
The former leaders of the FHA and members of board of FHA which included Arc Terver Gemade called for funding and administrative support to the current FHA, as both local and international experts on housing also assured government of more supports through FHA with the establishment of the new Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.
Solidifying the Renewed Hope Agenda of his administration and prioritizing housing for all Nigerians , the Nigeria’s President provided chunk of funds to the new Ministry both in the supplementary budget and the 2024 budget to the tune of a whopping sum of 100B, to enable the Ministry as supervisory body ensure its utilisation by the FHA in the area of Hosusing.
The current administration was not meant to create a parallel leadership in FHA and the Ministry, but ensured a deconstructed arrangements that will form a synergy of job execution between the Ministry and the FHA.
It was not also meant to show power play , sectional disposition and deliberate policy that will extricate the FHA as the sole provider of government houses to Nigerians via it’s mandate, having achieved alot through allocation of lands from state governments to build new houses and reclamation program and policy that had retrieved government lands from land grabbers in high brow areas of Lagos, Abuja, Kano , Port Harcourt, Enugu , Maiduguri among many other states of Nigeria.
But rather than tapping into the wealth of experience garnered three years down the line by the current FHA management, as well as many decades experience both from bureaucratic, technocratic, administrative and lately political experience in lands , the new avenue struggled to reality had become a potent for public condemnation, needless rivalry and unbecoming decisions that negates lay down procedures.
With the strides of Senator Gbenga Ashafa, no doubt his short stint achievements may even be responsible for the creation of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, so as to give more rooms for expansion.
For further deconstruction and harmonious working relationship, having hold sway for two terms in Federal Mortgage Bank FMBN , a sister parastatal under the new Ministry, no doubt more progress and achievements will be harnessed to the betterment of many Nigerians yearning for more houses.
During the press briefing to mark the golden jubilee , Senator Gbenga Ashafa opined that 100B yearly budget, will take Hosusing deficit in Nigeria to a gradual end, hence the coincidence of the current allocation, not envisaging the Ministry will be created.
A government agency that operated many decades without budgets and visible subvention, but utilised the revenue generated deserved accolade and not condemnation, to buttress former Military Leader, Yakubu Gowon stance.
Rather than creating needless rivalry, it is high time both agencies and the new Ministry work on the same template to achieve without further delay, the Renewed Hope Agenda of the present administration, with FHA leading the provision of mass housing in collaboration with both private developers arrangements recommended by the agency.
The new Ministry of Housing and Urban Development is created and supposed to be a policy making and not wholly decision making body of both agencies and parastatals under it, as it will amount to overlapping and duplication of functions.
Termination of jobs, re-allocation and re-award will only compound issues, while new job description for staff of FHA will be an obvious reversal from the laudable decisions.
The provision of mass housing with isolation of Federal Hosusing Authority FHA is a misnomer in any sane society, as President Bola Ahmed Tinubu intentions will be misconstrued and misplaced particularly his desire to achieve greatly in housing in the next few years.
Having rejigged the administrative, engineering, field, among many other departments in FHA to delivering at optimum performance, the outsourcing of it’s activities to virgin area or people will amount to conceding many issues that will be resulted in shoddy jobs scattered all over the country, threatened by collapse if not now , but few years to come.
The FHA is readily available and alive to the responsibility both now and in the nearest future, but will not allow itself to be reduced and unbundled on the alter of self and political satisfaction.
The primary objective of the agency is to continue to provide housing for all Nigerians, bridge deficits and ensure every Nigerians not minding status and stature own a shelter as we move towards SDGs 2030 decade of action.
The continuous security of lives and properties including structures erected five decades under strict supervision of FHA was an impetus of leadership with high regards for policy decisions.
Therefore, detaching FHA from it’s constitutional roles of providing houses to Nigerians amounts to going against government and lay down procedures.
With a tested and trusted leadership spanned with high level experience over the years, no doubt the idea of mass housing to Nigerians will not be reneged.
Yusuf , Writes from Abuja on [email protected].