19th January, 2012
The Social Housing Scheme bill passed its second reading in the Senate.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the bill if passed would allow the Federal Ministry of Housing to construct houses with locally sourced materials.
Senator Benedict Ayade (PDP-Cross River), the sponsor of the bill, explained that the bill would provide “a structural and legal backbone” for the provision of free housing for the underprivileged.
Ayade listed job creation for skilled and unskilled workers as key benefits of the housing scheme.
He urged the senators to support the bill, saying that adequate housing help in determining the living standards of the people.
“The housing conditions of citizens remain a significant component of the physical form and structure of a family and the community.
“It is the very tool for the measurement of the standard of living of a nation, and indeed, the commitment of the government to its citizens.”
Contributing to the debate, Senator Barnabas Gemade (PDP-Benue), said it was a subject that called for urgent attention of the government.
He expressed regrets that previous attempts to address the housing problem of the masses were sabotaged by the elites.
“Effort by government to introduce social housing schemes is always hijacked by the top echelon of the society,” Gemade said.
Senator Smart Adeyemi (PDP-Kogi) said that certain basic issues should be addressed before the implementation of the social housing scheme.
“This scheme cannot work without taking into consideration those variables such as creation of employment and issues of providing affordable land for the people,” he said.
Senator Ehigie Uzamere (ACN-Edo), who opposed the bill, said that the nation’s economy could not bear the burden of a social housing scheme.
“Nigeria’s economy is not capable of carrying this type of scheme at this time. The bill is a stillbirth. The government cannot afford to build houses for Nigerians,” Uzamere said.
Sen. Ayogu Eze (PDP-Enugu) suggested that the bill should be brought as a motion to amend the Federal Housing Authority Act as States and Local Governments were handling housing problems.
Meanwhile, the Senate on Tuesday asked its Joint Committee on Finance, Appropriation and National Planning to update its report on the 2012-2015 Federal Government Medium-Term Fiscal Framework.
The directive followed the presentation of the report by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Sen. Bassey Otu (Cross-River PDP).
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said the report needed to be updated since some issues had been overtaken by recent events.
Senate President David Mark also noted that although the committees had done a thorough job, there was need to update the report to reflect the current realities on ground.
Some of the issues raised in the report included petrol subsidy, the recommendation of $75 per barrel bench mark and an exchange rate of N155 to one dollar, among others.
The Senate also swore in a new member, Hadi Sirika (CPC-Katsina State).