Opinion

Next Lagos Governor and burden of housing deficit, by Femi Salawu

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Some say the Lady who confronted APC Guber aspirant, Babajide Sanwo-Olu recently at Niteshift Coliseum, Ikeja with a question on housing was drunk.
In the viral short video, she fixed her gaze on the Guber aspirant, fired a direct question demanding Sanwo-Olu’s plan for housing in Lagos. She was not having it as she shoved the microphone in his face and waited for an immediate answer. The video tails off with aides or organizers dragging her away amidst her protest.
It looked part a scene off a Nollywood flick and that moment has remained the most talked about aspect of the event, at least in the public sphere.
Underpinning all that drama is the germane issue of a long-running housing crisis that confronts any cosmopolitan city not the least of which is Lagos. Let’s gloss past the drama at Niteshift Coliseum, the frustration about inadequacies of housing in the city is real. Lagosians are left at the mercies of greedy landlords and fraudulent estate agents.
According to a 2016 demography figure, the population of Lagos is 21 million which puts the city ahead of Cairo as the most populous in Africa.
Experts say that Lagos requires minimum of 1m housing units yearly to fix shelter deficit in 10 years. Different administration has come and gone, however, the city has not witnessed the type of radical urban housing development projects since the admin of Lateef Jakande. Several decades after, a series of Low-cost Housing Estates otherwise called Jakande Estates still dot the city landscape bearing witness to his legacy.
In China, the government is looking inwards. There’s an aggressive attempt to mop-up the growing number of real estate that is going to waste. As with most cities, the presence of unutilized piece of real estates is one that can be most easily ignored.
This writer watched a documentary of a system in the Asian country where abandoned houses are redistributed and re-allocated to new families. This won’t be possible without an empowering legislation and massive public campaign. So instead of these houses to rot away, the govt of China created a database of all abandoned properties with the active participation of the people in a radical bid to put it to good use.
Abandoned real estates dots the Lagos city landscape from the highbrow neighborhoods to other suburbs. How can the full potentials of the city’s real estate be harvested? What new opportunities for public-private partnership can the government forge? What new international models and collaboration can be adopted?
The next Lagos Governor has his work cut out of for him or her as the case maybe. The new admin will need to bring in something new and radical to solve the perennial housing crisis that driving mad it’s citizens like the Niteshift Coliseum lady.
Femi Salawu, a Lagos-based Media Strategist writes from Lagos. Email – [email protected]

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