A non-governmental organization, Spaces for Change, in its new research, said the Imo State Government between 2010 and 2017 allocated more than N42bn to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.
The group, however, stated that the allocation had no correlation with the increase in housing stocks as annual housing production had been inadequate to close the deficit in the state.
It explained that there had been a discrepancy between housing budgets and the delivery of affordable, livable housing in the state.
According to the report, successive administrations in the state between 2010 and 2017 have placed emphasis on buildings and other public structures that neither contribute to the state’s housing stock nor tackle the housing affordability crisis in the state.
It noted that the bulk of the money appropriated for housing development went to projects that mainly benefited the executive, government officials, public servants and political appointees.
“Therefore, it is safe to conclude that the provision of affordable residential housing is not among the state’s top priorities. For instance, the 2012 budget appropriated N50m for mass housing while N102, 500, 000 was budgeted for the construction of Her Excellency’s office and conference,” the report said.
READ ALSO: Imo PDP Vows To Reconcile With Grassroots
It added that determining the start and end dates for most housing projects was a herculean task complicated by the year-on-year repetition of projects, including inserting completed projects in the state’s annual budgets.
It explained that year-on-year repetition of budget lines without any expatiation on cause and purpose cast a shadow of doubt on budgeting and fiscal transparency.
The report said, “The government’s demolition-centric approach to urban renewal as against in-situ upgrading of declining communities has widened the housing deficit in the state.
“Development-induced displacements also pushed the affected population deeper into poverty as more people lose their houses to demolition without adequate compensation or arrangements for resettlement. The PPP model of project financing in Imo State is problematic in many respects.
“The terms and conditions of the contracts with the private actors were often shrouded in secrecy. Likewise, the procedures for tendering contracts, competitive bidding and contractor selection could not be ascertained.”
The report stated that institutions such as the Imo Housing Corporation, statutorily mandated to undertake housing development were continuously starved of funds while white elephant projects executed between 2014 and 2017 forced significant reductions in the funding levels for housing development.
Among the recommendations from the research, S4C said the Imo State Government should put a sound policy on affordable housing in place, adopt Straight-Through Processing system of budgeting and engage different stakeholders in housing development.
It added that the state government should strengthen the Bureau of Public Procurement and Price Intelligence and revive its housing corporation, which it said was active and profitable at some point in time.
“It is hoped that the findings of this study will provide Imo State Government with an independent performance analysis of the housing sector which can form the baseline for initiating critical reforms in the state,” it added.
The aim of the report, according to the group, would have been achieved if it guides state executives in decision-making and priority-setting while influencing a positive effect on attitudes to public spending.
The Executive Director, Spaces for Change, Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, said the group launched its investigative report, with a focus on Imo State, to help understand Nigeria’s housing crisis.
She said the research took into account the peculiarities of the state in terms of annual budgets, population size, revenue generation capabilities and geographical characteristics.