| National trends in housing-production practices |
|1. Changing shelter policies in Nigeria|
As stated above, the current shelter policy of Nigeria can only be described as emergent. Following the launching of the new National Housing Policy, the unfolding scenario in the housing sector economy is a clear testimony that with dedication and seriousness of purpose, the citizens can collectively and gradually ameliorate the housing crisis plaguing Nigeria. A meaningful discussion of the current policy must, therefore, at the same time deal with the immediate past policy and its emergent successor, the National Housing Policy.
The Third National Development Plan was like a watershed, in the history of policy development in relation to shelter in Nigeria. In that plan it was possible to go beyond the basic human need concept of Shelter to one in which it contributes productively; "shelter" represents one of the most basic human needs and has no doubt a profound impact on the ... productivity of the individual" (FRN, 1975: 1:307). Shelter was transferred from the social (consumer) sector of the economy to the regional development sector which was acknowledged to have a greater impact upon development than mere consumption. The priority accorded to the sector and the level of projected public-sector involvement rose dramatically.
1. The data contained in this report were collected before the military coup in 1993.
Post-independence development plans have given little emphasis to Housing having been lumped ... with town and country planning which itself has hitherto been regarded as a low priority sector. The government now accepts it as part of its ... responsibility to participate actively in the provision of housing ... and will therefore intervene on the large scale in this sector ..." (FRN, 1975: 1 :308).
By far the largest and most conspicuous component of the programme was the National Low Cost Housing Programme which required the direct construction of 200,000 low-cost housing units by government, making use of the services of contractors. The lapses and failures noticed during this period were significant in forcing the search for a new National Housing Policy.
Although the plan recognized a number of other measures and instruments for the achievement of its stated shelter objectives - increased investment in the domestic production of building materials, importation of building materials to supplement local input etc. - its basic strategy was clearly the direct production of the set production targets of the plan period. The Federal Government undertook a major reform of the land-tenure system, expanded the financial base of its mortgage agency, and of the institutional base of its mortgage agency, as well as that of the institutional framework for the public sector in the production of shelter. The issue of rent control as a mechanism for increasing access to shelter - though of some concern to government during this plan period - did not make any significant impact.
The improved perception of the shelter sector by the Government during the Third Plan period notwithstanding, little overall emphasis was placed on the vital role of the private sector in shelter production or the mass mobilization of human and material resources and participation in support of shelter output.
The Fourth National Development Plan period (1980-1985) also accepted the recognition accorded to the shelter sector during the Third Plan period. The basic policy of the Government - of massive intervention in the sector to provide large quantities of housing units with special emphasis on the low-income group - remained unaltered and was reinforced. The fourth plan came to an abrupt end in 1983 when the civilian administration was overthrown in a military coup d'etat. In 1985, the Federal Government, conscious of the inability of previous policies and programmes to deal satisfactorily with the mounting shelter problems of the country, set up a special committee, made up of representatives of relevant public-sector bodies and other non-governmental interests in the shelter sector, to analyse the past national policies and programmes and make proposals for a new national housing policy. The report of the panel formed the basis of the present National Housing Policy, which has a definite and far-reaching enabling orientation.