Lagos Home Ownership Scheme Takes Shape

Lagos State has taken a step in the direction of providing homes for residents of the state. Governor Babatude Fashola recognised and described his administration’s effort to promote home ownership as a modest beginning. He is confident that it is sustainable, writes  Bennett Oghifo

Governor Babatunde Fashola held a smile of a man who was sure he had created something good on his face as he presented keys to the first set of 11 Lagos State residents that emerge from the state’s special home ownership scheme.

February, this year,  Fashola launched the owner-occupier scheme, which specifies that eligible Lagos residents with ability to make monthly mortgage payments will benefit from a home ownership scheme.

The scheme is designed to revolve, the governor said and that 200 new home owners would emerge monthly and that after a period, the number would increase to 300 and more, “as the number of completed homes increases and sustainability is achieved.”
The home ownership scheme is only for residents, who have not built a home in Lagos and have paid their taxes for a minimum of five years. A draw for the first set of 200 new homeowners was conducted last month and 11 people won because they fulfilled all the conditions set.

The governor’s smile of satisfaction exudes from his conviction that the 11 winners of the first draw emerged from a transparent process and, he stated as much when he remarked that “If there were to be only one successful person in the home draw, then the effort has been worth it. It is a modest start; 31 successful applicant from 200 homes at the first draw, remaining 169 homes that will be consolidated and added to the 200 homes in the next draw. People must believe in the system.”

Creating a system…
He explained that for the process to be user-friendly and transparent, members of the committee, which included the governor, had about 27 meeting that spanned three years, with fierce debates and with disagreements among themselves.
Fashola said: “Some of us who were in the Lagos HOMS committee had many fights, many cancellations, many starts and corrections to ensure this had to be an easy-to-use system.”

Get involve…
He urged Lagos residents to apply, pay their taxes and register as residents and that the rest would be easy. “We hope that the number of successful applicants will continue to increase month after month. It is a modest beginning but surely a journey of promise.”
The governor said he was particularly pleased that the winners were young people, “who have become home owners in their own country, in a place where young people are struggling. It should send a strong message to this generation that all is not lost. We can build a better nation.”

Tale of Hope…
According to one of the lucky 11 winners, Mr. Amos Kimeh Omodunni, “Everything worked just like clock. I did not have to visit any office or talk to anyone. Everything that I needed to do to complete that application was done just in my office and I did not have to move anywhere.”

Omodunni won a three-bedroom apartment at Shitta Estate, Surulere, one of the estates purposely built by the Lagos State Government for ownership by prospective first time home owners only, under a mortgage payment system.
Other lucky new home owners are; Mrs. Rukiat Abdulmalik, Mr. Ademola Odujoko, Mr.  Ejiroghene Toritseju Madedor, Mrs. Yetunde Oluwaseun Awopeju, Mr. Ajayi Omotayo Jubril, Mrs. Ganiyat Dolapo Akanni, Mr. Gbenga Owolabi, Mr. Chukwuneta John Paul Ogbatwi, Mrs. Bibian Aloba Kanayo and Mr. Ikpeh Daniel Darlington.

Giving his testimonial after he and others were handed keys to their respective apartments by the governor, he said the journey that changed his status started a few weeks ago when he came across the scheme on one of the social media sites.

According to him, he saw the photographs of one of the schemes that were uploaded when the governor visited the estate. Having read more about the Lagos HOMS initiative, he said he became interested. That was how he applied and followed the entire process through, online.

He explained that he was fascinated by the non-complex procedure of the scheme unlike some other house ownership schemes. “I did not expect it to be as seamless and as easy as it turned out to be,” Omodunni added.

A visibly elated Omodunni revealed further that he was in his office when the televised draw, on March 4, was being held and he had to run to one of the adjoining offices to watch the event. Surprisingly, according to him, his name was picked for a three- bedroom flat. He was very happy and excited.

He noted that though he has always had reservations about trusting government on any project, the present home ownership mortgage scheme has reinvigorated him and his fellow winners on the efficacy and efficiency of the state government. To this end, he assured that he and fellow home winners would become ambassadors of the initiative. His words, “We are very strong advocates of the transparency and fairness that we now know are the bedrocks of this particular scheme.

“We will sing it high and loud everywhere we go; to our friends, to our neighbours and colleagues, people around us. I will again say, go and apply, it is real. You don’t need to know anybody; just send in your application and you can become a home owner.”

Housing journey…
Over the years, the country’s vision of providing decent and affordable housing has remained elusive for lack of a political will to get it on stream. The closest the federal government got to realising this quest was under the watch of former president Shehu Shagari, who besides being given wastelands in some states did not help matters when his administration developed what critics called chicken coops for human habitation.

Later, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, who as governor of Lagos State succeeded in doting the state with affordable schemes that are in still use today.
Now, the Lagos government under Fashola wants to tread that path and has put what it hopes is a workable system in place to discourage abuse with a new mortgage law that was enacted recently. But there is more to decent and affordable housing, experts in the housing industry warn.

Affordable Home Concept…
A decent and affordable home does not mean poverty-housing but the right to live in an acceptable environment among the larger society. Experts say a primary factor in housing affordability is household income.

“The most common approach is to consider the percentage of income that a household is spending on housing. It also looks at the regular earnings of full-time workers who are paid only the minimum wage as set by their government. The hope is that a full-time worker will be able to afford at least a small apartment in the area that he or she works in,” according to experts.

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