Lagos is the centre of excellence in Nigeria, but yet the city being Africa most-populous is lacking the basics to match up to its standard.
Lagos, though not the capital city of Nigeria is the busiest and most populated and it’s also the commercial hub of the country. With so many opportunities available in the city, there is a constant influx of people on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis, all entering the city with the hope of finding greener pastures and making a living. The entire process of making a living definitely requires these people housing themselves of course. That now is the main problem Lagos has been facing. Appropriate, affordable and decent housing system.
With a population estimate that ranges between 15 – 26 million according to the various statistical bodies, Lagos is fast becoming the world’s largest city with a population estimate of 88 million by the end of the century. Now with so many people in one place, housing is definitely a very important commodity, but sadly, the housing situation in Lagos is becoming a very serious issue with the majority of the population living in slums and ghettos, and with the plan of making Lagos become a mega city comes with a question of the conditions and solutions that have been in place.
Lagos is currently becoming New York, undergoing various levels of changes as it’s pushing towards attaining a developed degree like many cities in other countries. New apartments are being built and edifices erected in the most luxurious of ways and in the most luxurious price ranges fit for those who have the pocket valued for it. Such is the case of the upcoming project of Eko Atlantic which is being planned to look after a boulevard modeled on Paris’ Champs-Élysées and is aimed to house around 250,000 people within luxuriously built apartments including the US Consulate which plans to move to the location.
Such luxury and a financial high-end plan are only suitable for those who have financial power and really doesn’t speak for the majority of those living in Lagos and neither is it the most needed thing yet. For Lagos which has a higher percentage of people living on the extreme poverty line, such housing provisions are things of dreams to them. The emerging middle-class is not so better off either as many are struggling to secure good housing conditions which provide and cover the necessary amenities such as accessibility, security, sanitation and transportation facilities. Such is the case and the plight of Kalu Ndukwe who though can be considered a middle-class citizen, still faces and has faced many challenges with relations to finding appropriate housing facility for himself and his family.
Although on the path to attaining great level of urbanization and development, Lagos still has a large deficit of necessary facilities that will permit the society to push for the level of advancement it needs and desires, for the fact is that the absence of such basic necessary facilities and amenities such as housing, security, basic health, and others, will hinder greatly this development pace. Lack of what is necessary to build, develop and thrive makes foreign investors bypass places that although they have the potential, the risks and detriments are very visible and enormous, and such is the case for Lagos.
The input of the government so far has been aimed at helping and aiding citizens to acquire these housing facilities through the provision of mortgages. This, although a good initiative is still handicapped as many who wish to benefit from such, are not qualified enough as the process involves the beneficiary being able to make a down-payment of about 5-30% for a 10-year loan. The problem arises as once again the financial condition of the majority of citizens is taken into consideration due to their lack and also considering the economic conditions of Nigeria with its double digits inflation, therefore even the mortgage system seems almost unable to solve the problem.
It has been estimated that Nigeria is having a deficit of 17 million housing units according to the World Bank, a case that to be rectified would require about $363 billion. With such huge numbers, one wonders where it will all end and how it will all be settled. And according to U.N.’s Leilani Farha, which she has rightly put, the government needs to get back to the basics. Instead of focusing on the provision of luxury, it should focus first on getting the basic housing infrastructure alongside with basic amenities which all go hand in hand to raise a stable and viable society so that such a society can grow and develop to enjoy the luxury that the government wishes to provide.