Better days may be in the offing for the rank and file including officers in the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), if recently announced partnership for a homeownership scheme between the authorities and United Nations agency for human settlements programme (UN-Habitat) are anything to go by.

 The scheme would cater for the low and middle-income officers and men who are otherwise excluded from any possibility of homeownership due to high cost of houses and an underdeveloped mortgage system.
Under the scheme, The Guardian gathered that 25,000 housing units will be constructed across 12 Zonal Commands and Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones in two phases. Other partners are notably Shelter Afrique and Power China Kunming, acting as core contractor.

  The parties aim to create new sustainable and liveable housing neighbourhoods with very high urban design standards and architectural quality taking into account the cost constraints of the project and local planning requirements. This includes the creation of good living environments with adequate facilities and mixed uses for a wide range of activities and employment.

  Last week, the Inspector General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase presided over the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) and Director, Regional Office for Africa, UN-Habitat, Prof. Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka. The ceremony witnessed by the Deputy Inspector Generals and Assistant Inspector Generals of Police and other officers was held at the Force Headquarters in Abuja.
  Specifically, pre-project activities have started in earnest and construction work will start early in the year. The first batch of houses in Abuja comprises 1, 000 units are to be built in the first phase is expected by mid-2016. The house type consists of two, three and four bedrooms detached flats, duplexes and block of flats.
Other pilot schemes would begin in the South-West, Abeokuta and Osogbo, South-South, Benin and Port Harcourt, South-East, Enugu and Awka, North-West, Kaduna and Katsina, North-Central, Makurdi and Ilorin.
    The core organising principles and objectives guiding the NPF project are affordability – the completed units are to be affordable to the target market especially Police Officers on low to medium income. Each sub-project should demonstrate the best quality urban design and architecture including appropriate sustainability measures.
  The project would also be based on speed of delivery – rapid delivery of each phase, minimising construction timescale through adoption of modern methods of construction.  The design, construction and structuring of each phase would include clear and executable arrangement for long-term maintenance of each sub-phase to preserve value.
  The Inspector General said, said the partnership with the UN-Habitat would ensure provision of low-cost housing for its officers.  He pledged his total commitment to the realization of this project that he hopes will provide succor to thousands of police men and women and their families.
  Prof. Oyeyinka explained that UN-HABITAT is inspiring these projects as part of its advocacy roles working closely with Shelter Afrique to create awareness on the imperative of affordable housing for the low-income and middle class; groups that tend to suffer most from underdeveloped mortgage system.
He said that mortgage penetration in Nigeria is 0.6 per cent of GDP compared with 50-70 per cent in advanced industrial countries. While this is indicative of a deep poverty problem – this poorly developed housing and infrastructure sector – presents a major avenue of growth for the Nigerian economy where housing deficit is estimated to be around 20-23 million.