Oby Ezekwesili vows to solve Nigeria's housing problem by tackling poverty
The former minister believes housing is an important part of lifting people out of poverty
While speaking at a town hall meeting with presidential candidates on the state of Nigeria's housing market on Saturday, January 12, 2019, the former minister said housing is an important part of lifting people out of poverty.
"The major thing to do is to ensure that people have income that enables to them to be housed, or those who rent houses on a long term and sustainable basis," she said.
The presidential candidate noted that an economy that enables improvement in income is fundamental to improving Nigeria's housing situation.
Nigeria is currently home to the largest population of people living in extreme poverty with an estimated 90.9 million Nigerians currently measured to be living on less than $1.25 (N381.25) a day.
Ezekwesili, who has promised to lift at least 80 million Nigerians out of poverty if elected president, said the right government policies will trigger stronger participation of the private sector in the provision of social housing to the millions of homeless people in the country.
She also said slums in Nigeria are detrimental to the achievement of sustainable development goals and must be looked at from the perspective of economic corridors which will change the way poor people are treated.
"So, my final take on this is to say tackling poverty is hugely tied, according to research, to what we do with housing for the poorer segment of our society," she concluded.
Ezekwesili also advocated for the digitisation of the procedures in the housing sector and reducing the stranglehold of bureaucracy in the housing value chain.
Ezekwesili calls for replacement of the Land Use Act
The former minister noted that while it might be politically-difficult to repeal Nigeria's controversial Land Use Act of 1978 as president, she would ensure participation of all stakeholders to make them understand why the Act has limited the nation's economy, acting as a barrier in every aspect of industrialisation.
"Having shown the evidence to the stakeholders, the most important thing is going to be an acceleration process for actually evacuating that Act and putting in place a new system of access to land that is very transparent and efficient," she said.
The 1978 Land Use Act governs land regulation in the country and has long been criticised for vesting too much power in state governors who are responsible for allocation of land.
Attempts by previous governments to repeal the Act have failed to bear any fruits.
Other presidential candidates present at Saturday's event, which took place at the University of Lagos in Yaba, are Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressive Party (YPP), Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC), Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), and Isaac Ositelu of the Accord Party (AP).
Other presidential candidates that were billed to speak at the event but failed to show up are President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Jerry Gana of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Nigerians will go to the polls to elect a new president on February 16, 2019 with Buhari and Atiku considered to be favourites to win.
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