Fashola hands over housing units in Ojokoro
Solicits support of Lagosians for success of Government’s housing policies, plans
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Tuesday handed over another 80 units of 8-in-1 three bedroom flats at the Millennium Housing Estate, Ojokoro 11 in the Ijaiye-Ojokoro Local Council Development Area with a plea for support of Lagosians to ensure the success of Government’s policies and plans to solve the housing problems of the State.
The handover of the units, made up of 42 units named Olaitan Mustapha Housing Estate and 38 units named Adetoun Mustapha Housing Estate, came barely two weeks after the Governor handed over the first 362 units of one and two bedroom flats at Odorangushin in Epe as part of the series to form the pool of houses to kick start the Lagos Home Ownership Scheme (Lagos HOMS) due to be launched soon.
Addressing the elated audience made up of members of the community, State Executive Council and the Legislature, as well as members of the Ojokoro Development Association, Traditional Rulers, Community Leaders and other top government functionaries, Governor Fashola said the handover was to redeem the pledge of mortgage based affordable housing by his administration during the electioneering campaigns.
The Governor declared, “The people have voted as we requested; we have come to redeem our pledge to do our best to solve the housing problem by handing over a set of housing units that Government has built”, adding, “The difference between us and other parties is that we perform while others lament their inability to translate promises to action”.
Pointing out, however, that the challenges of housing in the State would not be solved by the Government alone building houses, Governor Fashola explained that the problems that stand in the way of supply of affordable housing for the people extended beyond what happens inside the State Government alone.
“The solution requires a combination of forces of Government, private sector collaboration including investments in housing, developing or inducing investment in housing, developing or inducing a fiscal and monetary policy control, exchange rate and interest rate that are friendly to the housing sector, evolving policies that lead to competitively priced building materials and cost of labour, the pricing of fuel to run construction equipment and transport building materials in a way that will positively impact housing delivery, are some of the many hurdles that we must address and overcome”, the Governor said.
Governor Fashola said in the quest to overcome some of the hurdles, a team of dedicated officers in the public service led by him had worked behind the scene, in the last three years in collaboration with private sector volunteers, to examine and identify some of the problems.
“We have agreed and disagreed and come to a compromise on what we consider to be the most efficient solutions that we can deploy”, the Governor said adding, however, that the Government has no control over some of the variables like cost of fuel, interest rate, exchange rate and tariffs on imported building materials.
He commended the team for its “resourcefulness, determination and passion to find a road where none seems to exit”, adding, “They have evolved a series of policies and plans which we have started implementing and I am convinced that with the support of our people, their patience and understanding, we will succeed”.
Explaining the essence of the recently signed Tenancy Bill 2011, Governor Fashola said “it is essentially aimed at regulating the tenant-landlord relationship in a way that is mutually beneficial to all parties” adding, however, that the Law is neither a substitute for affordable housing nor a price control mechanism which, he noted, is a function of market forces of demand and supply.
“What it aims to achieve is to regulate onerous conditions attached to already highly priced houses. It also aims to restore private investment confidence in housing by making recovery of possession less cumbersome as it seeks to protect tenants from exorbitant collateral costs of agency and legal fees”, the Governor further explained.
According to him, what is required to solve the housing challenge of the State “is a combination of building and enunciation of policies that will re-energize the housing sector, restore confidence of investors to partner with Government and unleash the enterprise and potentials that are clearly inherent in the housing sector”.
On the possibility of implementing the Tenancy Law, Governor Fashola who described the Law as “self-enforcing”, declared, “Some people have asked me how we intend to enforce the law. The answer is simple. It is self-enforcing. Any contract made in violation of that law cannot be enforced in our courts since it is an illegal contract. If you want the protection of the law, you must act within its precincts”.
The Governor said having used the Tenancy Law to set a policy agenda, Government has moved from there to inaugurate the Housing Arbitration Rules as an alternative dispute resolution platform to ensure that disputes within the Housing Sector can be dealt with outside of the courts adding that financiers and investors have been known to prefer it because of its speed and commercial efficiency.
He explained that Government has also recently launched a website to provide the information platform for the soon-to-be launched Lagos HOMS “in order to ensure its transparency and competitiveness, so that potential home owners need not know anybody before they can benefit”.
“These are some of the lessons from the past that created setbacks for similar well intentioned programmes which have become our own learning curves about how to proceed with the current scheme to ensure that it is sustainable after we have left”, Governor Fashola said.
He said Government has now moved to the next stage of implementation starting with the handing over of the 336-Housing Unit Sir Michael Otedola Housing Scheme in Odorangushin, Epe, adding that aside the 80 units being handed over at the occasion, Government was already accelerating plans to conclude other housing units that it has started, while plans are underway to finalize new ones to start in Igando, Surulere, Omole, Ketu, Ogba and Ajara “so that we can ensure a continuous delivery of housing unitsperiodically as they are completed into the stock of the Lagos HOMS Project for onward sale on mortgage or what the people call ‘rent to own’”,
“This course will be another jolt to a slumbering economy through a value chain of supply, construction, labour, buying and selling that will create more jobs”, the Governor said.
Paying glowing tributes to the memories of late Hon. Olaitan Mustapha and his wife, Adetoun Mustapha after whom the two Estates are named, Governor Fashola declared, “Although they will continue to live in our hearts, I have decided that nobody was better deserving of honour than this wonderful couple and this Housing Estate in the Local Government that was their primary constituency will be our token memorial to honour them forever”.
Earlier, in his welcome address, the Commissioner for Housing, Mr. Bosun Jeje said the present administration, by handing over the series of housing units in the last two weeks has demonstrated that it is not just paying lip service to affordable housing delivery in the State.
The Commissioner expressed gratitude to the Governor for his tremendous support, describing him as an agent of positive change to transform and develop Lagos. “His insistence on good quality infrastructure adequate facilities and beauty you have seen here today underscores his commitment to very high standards”, he said.
Noting that the project impacted positively on the well being of the people of Ojokoro, the Commissioner paid tribute to the Traditional Ruler of the community, Oba Rilwan Oluwalambe Taiwo and the Ojokoro Community for their cooperation in ensuring that the project became a reality.
Widow of a deceased official of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Mrs. Mary Igbokwe, also at the venue, expressed profound gratitude to Governor Fashola and his administration for resettling her and her children after the demise of her husband who died in the course of his duties.
In her emotion-laden remarks, Mrs. Igbokwe recalled the sense of hopelessness and helplessness which descended on the family at the loss of their breadwinner but thanked the Governor for coming to their rescue by providing accommodation for her and her children and particularly for giving them justice “even when our hands were tied”.
The widow and her children later presented the visibly touched Governor a portrait and a plaque in appreciation.
Also present at the occasion were the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Oluranti Adebule, the Special Adviser on Housing, Hon. Jimoh Ajao among members of the State Executive Council, member of the State House of Assembly representing Ifako-Ijaiye Constituency 11, Hon. Ahmed Ipoola Omosore among other members of the Legislature, the former Commissioner for Housing, Prince Dele Onabokun, former member of the Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Morufdeen Afolabi, Traditional Rulers including the Oba of Ojokoroland, Oba Rilwan Oluwalambe Taiwo, HRM. Oba Adisa Ebelamu Olanire, the Oba of Iju Ogundimu among others as well as other stakeholders and top government functionaries.
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