The minister of housing and urban development, Ahmed Dangiwa, has told federal controllers of housing that government will no longer tolerate abandoned projects and incidents of vandalism.
The minister added that things have to be done differently because the ministry has a new focus, and the officials must ensure that Nigerians get value from the ministry’s projects.
Dangiwa stressed that the ministry would no longer tolerate vandalism of public buildings and properties across the country, calling on the controllers to live up to their responsibilities and ensure that assets within the purview of the ministry were protected.
The minister’s charges were contained in his address at a meeting with the controllers from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja recently.
According to him, the meeting, which was the first since his appointment, became necessary to sensitize the controllers on the policy direction of the ministry and what was expected of them in view of the Renewed Hope Agenda for Housing and Urban Development.
“Things have to be done differently because this ministry has a new focus, and we must ensure that Nigerians get value from our projects. We will no longer tolerate abandoned projects and incidents of vandalism.
“What that requires is for you to sit up and do your job efficiently. You have to go beyond routine inspection to being an active part of the planning process and site selection, prioritising adequate supervision and monitoring. It is your job to protect our national housing projects,” Dangiwa said.
He listed other roles to be played by the controllers as slum upgrading and urban renewal projects, the federal secretariats, and other public buildings belonging to the federal government. “You must discharge your duty with diligence, integrity, and honesty, with the understanding that what you do is for the greater good,” he said.
The minister noted that abandoned projects constituted a dead weight and tied down housing capital which should otherwise be recouped and channelled to other projects for the benefit of Nigerians.
He noted further that there were so many abandoned projects all across the country, assuring that they would be visiting some project sites and expect the developers to be on site to explain the status of the projects.
“Those who have abandoned their projects will either return to site to complete them or we will be forced to revoke their contract and pass the project on to more responsible developers,” Dangiwa added.
Speaking on the issue of vandalism and theft in public buildings and assets, the minister said the bill for renovations which he met upon assumption of office was a matter of serious concern, directing that all incidents of vandalism, theft, fire, and natural disasters, leading to damage of federal buildings be brought to the knowledge of the ministry through comprehensive reports from all concerned parties.
These parties, according to him, included the controller; the Fire Service, in the case of fire; the Nigeria Police Force, in the case of theft or vandalism; and other bodies. He added that the ministry would no longer pay for renovations.
“At hand-over of completed projects, the contractor must hand-over their own security guards to the ministry to work alongside officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps for post-construction security management of the site.
“The provision that is usually in the Bill of Quantities for security must be effectively utilised for that purpose until after the completed estate is occupied. As soon as off-takers begin to move in, occupants should be allowed to take over the management and maintenance of the estate using their own officials, whether house owners or tenants”, he said.
Dangiwa noted that the Ministry plans to rapidly increase housing delivery in order to bridge the housing gap, using existing instruments of the Ministry as well as leveraging collaborations and Public-Private Partnership arrangements.
“Slum upgrading and urban renewal projects in select states are also being worked out to improve the welfare of citizens,” the minister said, calling on the controllers to embrace the vigour with which President Bola Tinubu was addressing the housing and urban challenge, and wake up to their role as Chief Implementation Officers in the respective states.
“In view of the Renewed Hope Cities that we are starting, we have written to state governments to each provide us with 50 hectares of land for us to build the houses. This way, the cost of production is reduced. We understand that the 50 hectares may not be available at a stretch, so we stated that they can give us 25 hectares in two tranches as long as the lands are within or close to the circumference of the city. We urge them to give us suitable lands that will ensure their citizens who will be eventual occupants of the houses are safe and comfortable,” the minister added.
Some controllers who spoke at the meeting urged the minister to look into the legacy challenge of poor funding to state offices in order for them to be better equipped to play their part in the implementation of the Renewed Hope Agenda for Housing and Urban Development.