Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Rising Homelessness Amidst Many Vacant Houses

Rising Homelessness Amidst Many Vacant Houses

  • Government Must Massively Invest in Public Housing
By Daniel Akande

It is no news that homelessness in Nigeria has recently greatly increased to the extent that apart from the destitute children who roam about the streets of the northern part of the country, many are sleeping and living on the street with no shelter, while many house owners are profiting from this situation through high rent.

For instance, about 88% of those working in the main town of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) do not live within the AMAC, and the reason for this is unaffordability of the rent and associated high cost of living. A result of this is that while many houses are vacant, workers and the poor either live in the slums or are homeless. Rents of these houses are in the region of N500,000 and millions of naira annually.

There is no improvement on the salaries of workers, yet cost of living has increased astronomically. For instance, electricity tariff has been increased by at least 45%, petroleum price has also increased by 65% yet workers’ salaries still remain on a paltry N18,000 minimum wage.

We call on tenants in their numbers to constitute themselves into tenants association that, with the active support of labour, campaign to demand rent control, resist shylock landlords, put pressure on government to build affordable mass houses as well as to enforce affordable rent control price.

Labour should place demand on the government to develop a well-planned housing policy that will guarantee affordable houses for workers and the poor masses. They must reject the model of Lagos designed by the current Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, where government built only a few houses and these were priced beyond the reach of ordinary workers and the poor masses.

If the government claims that it does not have resources to build affordable and decent houses for workers and the masses, labour must reply that the money is there in the hands of the ruling class and the financial institutions.

The housing situation in Nigeria is urgent. The population is rising by over five million a year, already young people and those going to the cities to try to find work face extreme difficulties to find somewhere affordable and secure to live.

The demand for the government to provide affordable and decent housing must be linked with a demand for the nationalization of the cement factories, develop the steel industry and massively invest in the production of other component parts of the building industry. This is in order to bring down the cost of building houses, enable the mass construction of affordable houses and the necessary infrastructure, a programme that would also provide work to a significant number of the unemployed and semi-employed.