Tackling property challenge in the South-East: The Anambra initiative

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mass-housingAnambra State is making serious inroads into housing challenges in the state as against what other state governments in the sub-region are doing. Emeka Odogwu writes for The Authority

Generally, the people of South-East are mi­grants and have as­sisted in developing property businesses in Abuja, Lagos as well as other cities across Ni­geria and beyond.

It was discovered that prop­erty challenge had always been a grave one for low in­come earners in the state for which accommodation chal­lenge was pivotal as many do not have substantial amount with which to rent a house especially civil servants.

One of the latest giant strides of Gov Willie Obiano is the promise of safe and af­fordable houses for Anambra citizens. Anambra was among the states selected for the pilot scheme of a special World Bank-funded urban housing scheme in partnership with the then Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Develop­ment, Central Bank of Nige­ria, Ministry of Finance and Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company.

Commenting on this devel­opment, a real estate devel­oper, Chief Okey Chukwuo­go said, “The South-East is still very viable for property business because from the orientation of the zone, busi­ness is the name of the game and people from all walks of life come in for work and in search of greener pastures.”

Chukwuogo pointed out that for so many reasons, there is limited property to accommodate the teeming population. Investigation shows that owners of plots at Amansea Community, Awka North Lo­cal Government Area where the proposed estate is to be located are aggrieved. They, therefore, protested to the appropriate authorities to stop revocation of the plots allocated to them by the gov­ernment in 1996.

One of the aggrieved plot owners, Mr Okechukwu Arinze, said, “The former Ministry of Lands and Urban Development, now Federal Ministry of Works, Hous­ing and Power, allocated the said plots of land to us after paying compensation to the Amansea land owners. “We are surprise that the state government came into the land and removed the beacons by way of revocation of the land that belonged to us; a land we procured from the federal government.
Although Gov Willie Obi­ano’s administration has not responded to the allegation, investigations at the site point to their claim though con­trary to Obiano’s stance who pledged to provide land for the immediate take-off of the proposed 500 units of hous­ing project being promoted by the federal government.

The scheme involves the construction of 10,000 hous­ing units across the country to be funded by the World Bank through the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Com­pany to the tune of $300 mil­lion with a retention rate of 40 years. Each of the pilot states will have a maximum of 500 units of housing and each house will carry a 20-year mortgage facility.
The then Minister of Land, Housing and Urban Devel­opment, Mrs Akon Etim Ey­akenyi, was with Gov Obiano who pledged to offer service­able land with titles in a mat­ter of weeks to facilitate the immediate take-off of the project in the state.

Ezekiel Nya Etok, speak­ing on the take-off, revealed that going by the governor’s enthusiasm, the contractors who were expected to handle the project were to be expect­ed on site soon. In a similar vein, Obiano signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with an Irish firm, Asieur Interna­tional Limited Group, for the development of 10,000 af­fordable housing units in the state for civil servants and other low-income earners. Anambra state’s equity con­tribution would be 18 billion Naira (about $90 million).

Obiano gave his com­mitment to ensuring that the project, which would cost about 95.2 billion Nai­ra (about $476.1 million), would come to fruition to ease the housing constraints of the citizens of the state. He stressed that a major fundamental step towards advancing development in every state is giving low-in­come earners a secure place to live. He was assured by the project Director, Mr Tony Duncan, that they would de­liver.

Chief Chukwuogo, the Executive Chairman of MACBEN and CEE, an es­tate developing firm based in Awka lamented that previ­ous governments in the state since the 90s abandoned property development. It was Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, the former Governor, who thought it wise to develop the state, however, his pro­grammes were hijacked by the rich who rather than de­velop the state as developers became land speculators.

“When the present Anam­bra was created, the military and subsequent democratic governments were unable to make Anambra people think home. They lived in all man­ner of places to come to work in Anambra and if they had thought about home, a lot would have been better.

In recent times, however, Obiano has performed a ground-breaking ceremony of Obinwanne Housing Es­tate which is located along the Enugwu-Agidi axis, Njik­oka. The project is directly supervised by Anambra State Housing Development Cor­poration. Also, the state government signed a memorandum of understanding with another indigenous firm for the de­velopment of thirty hectares of land at the Awka New Lay­out.

The firm, Dozzy Invest­ment Limited, has the capac­ity to develop and manage housing development. They are to build four and five bed­room detached duplexes with a two room auxiliary build­ing, among others.

While signing the MOU, Obiano noted that it was very important that decent ac­commodation be made avail­able for Ndi Anambra and non-indigenes.

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