Housing Provision in Nigeria: The Cooperative Approach

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Housing problems in Nigeria are multi-dimensional. They occur both in the urban and rural areas. They are qualitative, quantitative, psychological and socio-cultural in nature. These problems are consequences of the inability and ineffectiveness of both the public and private sectors to meet the housing needs of the populace. As a result of this, any lasting solution to the Nigerian housing problem requires a multi- faceted approach. Various policies aimed at alleviating these housing problems have been formulated and implemented. They have met with varying degrees of success. After identifying the main causes of housing problems in Nigeria, this paper examines the Cooperative housing concept as a strategy for housing delivery. The essential features of the concept are discussed and an evaluation is made of its impact on the housing sector in selected countries based on various criteria. Some of these are: aims and objectives, modalities for funding, peculiarities of implementation, planning imperatives and levels of success. The paper concludes by relating the experiences of these countries to the contemporary Nigerian housing situation and determining the applicability of the cooperative housing model given the nation’s socio-economic environment. Keywords: Cooperative housing, shelter, human habitation, housing finance.

Shelter, like food and clothing, is a basic human need with profound impact on life. Every human being has a right to own a home, just as he has a right to breathe the air created by God. Therefore, the search for shelter has spanned over the years and from all indications, appears to have eluded complete solution in modern times, for most individuals, especially in a developing society like Nigeria. While the housing needs of the pre-colonial Nigeria at the village levels in the past were met by a combination of his own efforts and that of the society to which he belonged his more modern counterpart in the Urban area today is constantly faced with the problem of how and where to put up a shelter of his own. The fact is that every human being needs a home, hence we had the ancient men who live in caves - the bush men of the Hottentots of South West Africa lived on top of trees and so man's quest for shelter has been a recurring venture to which a permanent solution remained elusive. While many nations have put in substantial parts of their national incomes to provide shelter for their citizens with some measures of success, others are still standing aloof with little or no effort to solve this problem. The ancient man had no housing problems because to him housing meant any shelter from adverse effects of weather. But today housing means more than shelter from adverse weather. Housing means not only the physical fabrics that make up a building, but includes all the services, utilities and all infrastructure that make an environment, a neighbourhood, or a community fit for human- habitation.

The housing delivery system in Nigeria is a combination of inter-related processes. As such, housing problems are multifarious and require multidimensional solutions. Nigeria’s diverse housing problems revolve around overcrowding and slum housing. Many Nigerians cannot afford decent homes. They live in contraptions that can only be called ‘Shelter’ and not ‘Housing’. Government over time has intervened in the housing sector by increasing housing stock through the construction of housing estates and through its mortgage institutions, facilitated the disbursement of housing loans. These measures have done little to address the situation. On the other hand, houses provided by the private sector operators are out of the economic reach of even the medium income earner. An effective and realistic...
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