A’Ibom Mass Housing: NIA Partners Govt, Corporate Bodies

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Low income earners in Akwa Ibom State will soon have their prayers answered as the Nigerian Institute of Architects, Akwa Ibom State Chapter, has hinted on its plans and readiness to flood the state with affordable houses, to ease the accommodation problem facing thousands in the state.

The body dropped the soothing message recently in Uyo in an exclusive interview with The Sensor Newspaper at the end of its “2Nd Professional Development Workshop On Mass Housing Finance and Construction Strategies 2016”. Speaking to our reporter on the essence and significance of the workshop, the National President of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, Arc. Tunde Braide, said the project is a concerned way for the body to key into the programmes of government in connection with affordable housing in Nigeria. This, according to him, is also to counter the belief that good housing is an exclusive reserve of the rich. He therefore gave the assurance that with the project handled by tested architects, time has arrived for decent houses to be within the reach of the common. Categorically, the programme according to Arc. Braide is “to support government’s plans to feel the gap in accommodation needs of the people of Akwa Ibom State. We have seen the massive uncommon transformation in the state and we felt it was time we keyed into the arrangement of making houses avoidable and affordable to those in need.”

Also speaking to our reporter, the coordinator of the local strategic committee of the project, Arc. Otto Udosen, said the houses to be built shall range from one bedroom flat to two-bedroom flat bungalow for the meantime and subsequently to three bedroom bungalow, since the target principally is for the low income earners. Explaining further on the model and nature of the houses, Arc. Udosen who has had a background in mortgage finance was so optimistic about the possibility and success of the programme. “Though we have heard of stories like this before in the past perhaps, ours has been carefully planned to make a difference because of the strong determination of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, our professional know-how, and the integrated elements that propel the initiative”, he argued.

Making contributions on how the body hopes to secure funds for the project, the Akwa Ibom State Chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, Arc. Iniobong Ukpong, disclosed that the body enjoys strong partnership with reliable and renowned corporate bodies who all have indicated their willingness to facilitate the project, stressing that fears about funding should be instantly discarded. According to the optimistic chairman, “Based on our pedigree, we have all available tools to access funds wherever we want. We are coming into partnership with banks that will finance the project, so that low income earners like middle-class civil servants can access funds through these banks towards becoming house owners and landlords instead of being perpetual tenants with all the inconveniences inherent in it”. The state chairman added that the funding is much more assured because the Central Bank already has a pool of financial resources.” He further emphasized that their intention is not just to concentrate in the urban area, but to see how those in rural communities could be involved to discourage urban migration, which in turn will decongest the city and create employment opportunities down the line.

The Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) in partnership with NNPC Properties Ltd., Central Bank of Nigeria, the Akwa Ibom State Government, and LafargeHolcim, also has as part of its mandate to sensitize the people of Akwa Ibom State towards getting prepared for a programme that is planned to secure their housing needs. Also present at the all-architects workshop were Arc. Ubokutom Nyah, Arc. Otu Umoren, and Arc. Otu Edem; with Nsikak Essien, Abimbola Oke also as members of the Local Organizing Committee.

There have been general concerns amongst low income earners in Akwa Ibom State, indeed in Nigeria, on government’s delay or lackluster approach to translating its promises for housing for all. Now that a there is promising Public Private Partnership arrangement, it can only be hoped that efforts will be expedited to make housing available and affordable for low income earners in Akwa Ibom state in no distant time.

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