The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, Thursday undertook an inspection tour of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) National Housing Programme site declaring that the Buhari administration’s infrastructure renewal policy was achieving the envisaged purpose of boosting socio-economic development for which it was formulated.
Fielding questions from newsmen after the inspection, Fashola said the proof of the impact of the policy on the populace was no longer a matter of conjecture but could be seen and experienced by the people working at the various project sites, be they Power, Works (Roads) or Housing, across the country as well as those selling food, clothing, household items and other human needs in the markets, who were also experiencing the boost in trade and commerce.
The Minister, who cited as example some workers he interacted with during the course of the inspection, declared that the actual beneficiaries of the much touted huge budgets allocated to the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, were the workers carrying out various tasks at the project sites, suppliers of construction materials, food vendors and others, who, according to him, would then take the money to the markets where the traders would also take their shares.
He declared, “It is no longer what I say that matters; the truth is that the Buhari administration’s infrastructure renewal policy is really getting to where it should be getting; in the hands of the real workers; Fidelis and Ibrahim (the workers he interacted with at the site) the two carpenters I have talked to, represent those people, the foreman that I also spoke to, the 30 labourers who are mixing concrete, ordinary people who may never get to see the President but who the President is impacting by his policies and programmes. That really is the story”.
“Again, let me repeat; when you hear that the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has the largest budget, this is what happens to the budget. We are just a conduit for moving it on to the people of Nigeria through contracts that are awarded, works that are done, payment that are made, concrete that is mixed, woodwork that is done by carpenters, iron rods that are bound together by labourers; so that is what happens to that budget. This is the destination of the budget”, he said.
Fashola further explained that from the workers, the money would get to the markets where they would go to buy food, household and other needs thereby passing the money to market traders and business men who would also use the money to meet their diverse needs both at home and in their other commitments. “That is the economy”, he said.
On how the programme could be sustained in order to ensure continuous jobs and employment for artisans and other skilled and unskilled workers as well as business men, the Minister said, “There is no going back on this. This is proof of concept. You would have seen in Oyo, Osun and Kwara last week where all our Directors went, the same thing is happening. We also have this thing going on in Kano and Kaduna where I was last week. In the last year, we stopped at sites in Gombe, Taraba and this is all over the country. But we need to prove that this concept works”.
“When we finish, what we want to establish now is to ensure that people accept this 24 apartment design in this part of the country and that they can pay for it. Then you will see more of this. You will, probably see ten, twenty going on at the same time. So that is when the Housing Economy really takes full bloom”, he said.
Fashola advised business men and women to be ready to supply the market with household accessories such as curtains, carpets, bedding and household furniture pointing out that when people buy houses they would need those items to equip the houses. “The tailors and foam makers must get ready as well because the new house owners will need bed sheets and mattresses”, the Minister said.
Reiterating that the programme is currently on-going in 33 states of the country, Fashola declared, “So this is the full ecosystem of the national economy that we are beginning to get back to”. He urged journalists to propagate the news of the Housing programme to Nigerians, who, according to him, are the ultimate beneficiaries adding that they should report what they have observed.
Interacting with the project supervisor earlier, the Minister was told that there are 30 labourers currently working at the site, made up of carriers and masons; there are also 10 carpenters and 10 iron benders as well as five plumbers and six electricians, he said adding that many other people come daily at the site to do businesses like supply of food and other needs of the workers.
One of the workers at the site, Ibrahim Haruna, told the Minister during an interaction with them that he joined the site last month because he wanted to gain more experience and also because the pay for the work was good. Ibrahim, who said he joined the company from doing carpentry work on his own, added; “Now I have more experience on the work and the pay is very good and very attractive”.
Another Contractor, who also interacted with the Minister at the site, told him that he has about 95 workers doing different jobs at the site adding that with government paying them regularly, they have no challenges hindering their work.
Located at Dukpai area of Gwagwalada Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, the National Housing Project, which covers an area of about four hectares, consists of two components one of which is made up of buildings of 3 condominiums of three floors each with each condominium having four one-bedroom flats, 16 2-bedroom flats and four 3-bedroom flats totaling 24 flats and 72 flats for the three condominiums. The second component, according to a project brief signed by the Project Team Leader, Arch. Fashoranti Toyin, consists of infrastructure such as roads, electricity and motorized borehole.
The brief also showed that three contractors, Messrs City International Limited, Sonjay International, and Malami Pawa and Sons Limited are handling the building component of the contract while Messrs Sassads Trading and Construction Co. Limited, Umka Nigeria Limited and Muhsin Limited are handling the Infrastructure component.