By Perpetua Onuegbu
Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Mr Ahmed Dangiwa, says the ministry is collaborating with the National Population Commission (NPC) to produce verifiable and credible data on the actual number of Nigeria’s housing deficit.
Dangiwa disclosed this at a meeting with a delegation of NPC led by its Chairman, Hon. Nasir Kwarra and some Commissioners on Monday in Abuja.
Speaking at the meeting, he said the objective of the meeting was to address one of Nigeria’s most pressing data challenges of accurately determining the extent of the housing deficit in the country.
“For years, our nation has grappled with conflicting and unsubstantiated figures regarding this crisis.
“The range of estimates, varying from 17 million to 28 million, has not only been a source of embarrassment but also a hindrance to effective policy making and strategic planning.
“I believe it is time to change this narrative and take coordinated action to bring clarity and credibility to our understanding of the housing deficit and the state of housing in Nigeria.
“We must work to establish accurate, credible, verifiable and scientifically sound data on the housing deficit and living conditions of homes that Nigerians live in nationwide,” Dangiwa said.
The minister further said it was only through a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the housing deficit that Nigeria could devise effective strategies to address the housing shortage.
He added that the ministry’s collaboration with NPC was a critical step, explaining that the next national census was a timely exercise that would provide an invaluable opportunity to gather precise data on citizens’ housing needs.
Dangiwa emphasised that the housing deficit was not solely about the quantity of structures but also about the quality of living conditions.
“Adequate housing, coupled with proper living conditions is a fundamental human right that underpins social stability and economic development.
“There is a plan of creating the National Social Housing Fund to cater for the underprivileged in the society, and this can only be achieved with a veritable data of housing without essential sanitary conditions,” he said.
On his part, chairman of NPC, said the commission was fully ready to carry out the census with digitalised tools which according to him was long overdue.
He urged all Nigerians to present themselves for the census adding that special populations like the migrant farmers, fishermen, non Nigerian residents as well as homeless citizens and completed but empty houses would also be counted.
Explaining how prepared the commission was to conduct the census he said the commission had counted a total of 55, 495, 871 estimated households in the country.
Kwarra said that the commission had assisted the Nigerian Postal Service in the provision of the base data for postcodes that is used for addressing houses, and assisted the Surveyor General’s office in data for Geo-spatial mapping.
He added that the census would also help Nigeria in the tackling of insecurity bedeviling the country.
“The importance of data in national development cannot be overemphasized. The contemporary world does not just look at data but emphasis is on georeferenced data which are data sets with reference to the geography of a nation,” Kwarra said.
In her presentation, Mrs Yetunde Adebayo, Coordinating Director, GIS /DQM, NPC said the planned population and housing census which is the first digital census planned with international standards methodology in Nigeria is important for the country given the last time since the last count was in 2006.
“Availability of data is an integral consideration in the effort towards the realization of Nigeria’s development plans.
“Data is one of the core focus areas of development planning and it is central to setting realistic targets and consistent use of tools and processes to track progress toward achieving the targets and the overall goal of the country’s plans.
She therefore urged the minister to help push for the census to be conducted soon so that the gathered data would not be outdated and also to make it less expensive to conduct. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Angela Okisor/Isaac Aregbesola