Members of the Association of Housing Corporations of Nigeria (AHCN) have been enjoined to do all that they can to reduce the much talked about deficit in housing provision in Nigeria. The call came last Thursday as the Association commissioned a new office complex that will serve as its national secretariat in Lagos.

The five floor structure which sits on 2, 300 square metres of land in the heart of the Central Business District was started two years ago after the land was allocated to the body by the former governor of Lagos State, now minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola.

In his address, Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing, Folorunsho Dipe, an architect, said the body must judiciously utilize the opportunity of having its own secretariat to work for Nigerians.

“You have to ensure that the housing deficit of 17 million unit homes in Nigeria is gradually phased out. His excellency in giving you this land has shown his support and confidence in the association and the trust has to be reciprocated by ensuring judicious use of this facility,” he said.

AHCN was equally tasked to look into the aspect of training of artisans in the industry as a way of both creating job opportunities for the country’s teeming population of youths and also ensuring that capable hands are engaged in the industry.

Architect John Bidi, a former MD of Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC) made the call and stated that one of the best ways of doing this is by partnering with Polytechnics and technical colleges in the country.

“I want AHCN to begin to look seriously into how it can train artisans in the industry. I believe you can do that by partnering with polytechnics, technical colleges and other institutions where you can find youths who are technically inclined. This is also a way of stamping out quacks in the industry and curbing the menace of building collapse,” he stated.

Also speaking at the occasion, the immediate past and pioneer president of the AHCN, Dr. Ifenna Chukwujekwu, reiterated that the journey began in 2014 with a groundbreaking ceremony in the month of May and coincidentally has culminated in the completion and opening ceremony exactly 24months later.

President of the association, Mohammed Abba Adamu, a quantity surveyor, expressed hope for the future of the association noting that the ‘squatting’ days are over. He thanked the LSDPC for playing host to the AHCN since its inception.

“I want to use this opportunity to thank the LSDPC for accommodating us for the past four years. When we started this project it looked like it was never going to materialize. But here we are today for the opening ceremony. Not only is it completed, but it is also obviously a very good job,” he enthused.

The developer, Mr. Sesan Obe, of Centre Base Consult Limited, disclosed that the property would both occupy the AHCN secretariat and be open to the public for letting.

“About 70 per cent of the offices will be let out to interested members of the public, that way the money spent on the project can be recouped over time,” he said revealing that the project was achieved at a whopping nearly half a billion naira.

• The Guardian