As public servant, Babatunde Raji Fashola has always been guided by the prudence of data and statistics in his conduct of public affairs. That is how he was able, in July this year, to debunk the claim that Nigeria had a 17 – 22m housing deficit as at 2012!
Speaking on New solution to nigerians urban housing at a Lafarge Africa Plc quarterly webinar- Concrete Ideas, Fashola, who was Special Guest of Honour at the webinar, said: “I will start my intervention at this session by inviting our attention to the slide on page 16 of the notice of this event sent to me, which deals with Housing Challenges in Nigeria under the memo highlighting a housing deficit estimated at 22 million homes, under the caption ‘Housing Challenges’.
“That is the misdiagnosis of the problem. Nigeria does not have a housing deficit of 22 million homes. There is no proven data to support that statement or claim. I have spent the better part of the last two weeks discussing this subject. Let me play back a portion.
When I took office as Minister for Works and Housing, one of the things that I was confronted with was 17 million homes. How could we deliver that? Where is the data? What is the source? And somebody said World Bank. So I invited the Country Manager of the World Bank and said this is credited to you. He said we had no hand in it. Somebody said it was Africa Development Bank (AfDB).
“And so I sent for the Country Representative of AfDB, and he said we knew nothing about it. And so, I said where could I go again? I called the DG of the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS). I said DG, you keep our data and numbers. Do you have data about the number of people who need homes in Nigeria? He said no we don’t have it.
“But where did this figure of 17million come from? He said minister, calm down. Let’s reason through this. I have one data that is very credible, very reliable. I have a data of households in Nigeria because we did that study, we have the data. And we have 35 million households for the whole of Nigeria.
“The household by the way is one family. He said if your analysis is correct and 17 million is the deficit, it means that half of Nigeria is homeless. That doesn’t stand up to logic. Off I went to the National Population Commission that does the census. I said the next census must include the home ownership and home rental census. I want to know, because we can’t solve a problem that we can’t measure. It was not possible.