•Mrs. TOKE BENSON AWOYINKA, S. A Gov. Sanwo-Olu On HOUSING
Barrister Joke Benson-Awoyinka is Gov. Sanwo Olu’s Special Assistant on Housing in Lagos State. A few days back, she was our guest on City People TV Instagram Live Chat, during which she spoke on what the Lagos State Government is doing in the Housing sector.
Below are excerpts of the interview.
What has been your experience so far?
So, far so good. We have been faced with the challenge of providing housing for the people of Lagos. Most of our housing projects are nearing completion. We have inherited a number of projects from the previous administrations and we have managed to complete about 3 of those projects, namely, the Lateef Jakande Estate in Igando, the Lekki Gardens in Lekki on Freedom Road and we have the Courtland Villa at Elegushi, Laogs. So we are looking at completing some major projects this year and that will include the Sangotedo Housing Scheme at Eti-Osa, Lagos and I think Iponri Housing Estate (Lagos Homes) will be completed in the next 1 or 2 months. In total, before the end of this year, I think we would be having at least 1,500 units for the citizens of Lagos that they can buy into.
How do all these fit into the general housing plan and vision of Lagos State?
This administration has actually promised the people of Lagos that we are going to provide at least 10,000 units before the end of our tenure, that is in another 3 years time. We have some other projects that are ongoing. We would be talking about in the course of this conversation but mainly we want to bridge the housing gap, the housing deficit in Lagos.
How do you want to do that?
It is not going to be by our own efforts alone. We are also thinking of the private sector also joining us and contributing to it. We are creating an enabling environment for the private sector to also join us to provide housing for the people of Lagos. For us as a government, we are making sure that all the estates inherited by this administration from the 2 previous administration administrations are completed before the end of Mr. Sanwo-Olu’s tenure.
What is the housing deficit figure the state is working with?
On that, I have to be careful, because people just drop numbers. I don’t want to join the debate. The federal government has dropped some numbers. But we haven’t officially come up with a figure as a state. We have had people drop numbers. Some say 8 million, some say 11 million. We are just concentrating on the numbers that we want to provide.
How important is the housing sector in Lagos State?
Lagos is faced with net migration from the rest of Nigeria. Everybody dreams and thinks of coming to live in Lagos. So, on a daily basis, we have about 150 people coming into Lagos, by bus, by family connection, searching for a job, just in search of a better life. As a federation, we can’t stop people from migration into Lagos. As soon as people come into Lagos the next best thing they need is Housing.
What exactly are we doing about this?
Because we can actually tell people not to come to Lagos. The next best thing for us to do is provide as much as we can and also have the private sector join in that development, as well. So, we are actually toying with some ideas which we call Transit Homes, which we have abroad, where people once you come in, you can rent those homes for a certain number of days, or a certain number of months, just for you to settle down to get a job, or to settle down to find an appropriate place of abode, for now, that is what we are doing. We are not promising anybody anything. We are looking into that sort of arrangement for people coming into Lagos. I tell people that housing is the most important thing in a man’s life, once you have a roof over your head you believe every other thing is settled. Its a priority in Lagos and it is a priority for the administration of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu