By Sarauniya Usman
The Housing Development Advocacy Network has condemned the decision by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), that the Bankers Committee would spend N20 billion to carry out maintenance works at the National Art Theatre, Lagos.
The network through a statement issued by its President Mr Festus Adebayo,frowned at the decision saying that due consultation was not carried out.
Adebayo said the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele revealed this plan to newsmen at the end of the 11th session of the Bankers Committee meeting in Ogere, Ogun state.
According to him Emefiele said the committee would revive the asset that was currently lacking good maintenance, and not reaching its potentials.
He said the reports stated that aside from the redevelopment of the National Theatre, four hubs would be built around it, which would be developed and funded by the Bankers Committee.
The advocacy network therefore said the maintenance sum was outrageous and that the project wasn’t economically viable, especially in comparison to other pressing needs in the country.
He said the bankers committee should have consulted more before deciding to expend such amount of funds on what many believed to be a moribund project.
The group believed that if such funds could be channelled towards affordable housing, millions of Nigerians who were currently homeless would have homes of their own.
‘’It is quite unbelievable that the Bankers committee have 20 billion to spend on a moribund project and not Affordable Housing.
“It’s unfortunate that no one seems to take housing seriously except in campaign speeches and other contexts requiring political correctness.
‘’Other less critical sectors get actual practical attention with stupendous funding while housing gets lip service,’’ he said.
The housing expert noted that even though the N20 billion was not coming from government coffers but from the Bankers Committee’s funds and contributions from member commercial banks.
He argued that such funds should have ordinarily gone into Housing Finance if those same banks were contributing their quota as mandated by the NHF Act to the National Housing Fund.
He added that N20 billion would make a significant impact in the housing value chain in Nigeria, especially because the sector had suffered poor funding over the years.
“In contrast, only N17.5 billion is the total allocation for the Federal Government flagship National Housing Program in the 2020 budget for Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.
“An investment of N20 billion in housing development would not only provide housing for low and middle income earners but would also generate a lot of employment, direct and indirect labour.
“It will generally stimulate the local economy and prove to would be investors that the country is serious about housing development,” Adebayo argued.