Adelani Adepegba, Abuja

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called for smart policies that can stimulate investment in housing development to address the five million housing deficit in the country.

He said if the nation produced half a million housing units per annum, it would still find it difficult to meet the needs of the populace by 2030 in view of the growing population.

Speaking during the inauguration of River Park Estate and a community police station along the Airport Road, Abuja, on Monday, the ex-President encouraged investors to invest in the housing sector, saying it offered huge returns.

He noted that the development of housing estates could also be fast-tracked through Public-Private-Partnership arrangements as exemplified by the River Park Estate, which was built by two firms, Houses for Africa and Jonah Capital Nigeria, and other partners.

Obasanjo added, “Housing will continue to be a challenge for us till the next two generations; so, if investors want to go into an area where there will be return on their investment, housing must be one of them.

“We will have to think out of the box, bringing greater performance and efficiency to make impact in housing production; it cannot be business as usual. It is part of the problem of demography.”

The elder statesman said the PPP arrangement in estate development was part of the policy adjustment undertaken by his administration in 2007 to boost interest in housing construction in the country.

Obasanjo explained that the approval for mass housing estate schemes was used to introduce the PPP into the real estate sector between the Federal Capital Territory Administration and private developers.

He lauded Prof. Akin Mabogunje, who chaired the Presidential Committee on Mass Housing Projects, which paved the way for the development of mass housing schemes across the nation.

The Chairman, River Park Estate, Paul Odili, commended Obasanjo for the roles his administration played in encouraging private investments in mass housing estates development.

He said the River Park Estate could boast over 3,000 structures, including a divisional police station, shopping mall, petrol station, hotel complex, nursery/primary school, international conference centre and a golf course.

Odili added that 89 employees of ECOWAS Commission, who subscribed to the estate, had occupied their completed apartments while four others, whose homes were not ready, would move in by the end of the year.

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