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Fashola partners finance ministry, others to reduce housing deficit




The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, says his ministry is working with ministries of finance, budget and national planning to lower interest and lending rates to reduce housing deficit in the country.

Fashola made the assertion at the third edition of Lafarge Africa Plc Quarterly webinar – Concrete Ideas.

It is a platform for deliberation on issues, policies and developments shaping Nigeria’s construction, infrastructure and housing sectors.

The theme of the webinar was: “New Solutions for Nigerian’s Urban Housing.”

The minister, who spoke as the Special Guest of Honour, said the government would ensure long term financing to reduce the housing deficit in the country.

He said housing was a commodity, which the private sector could leverage to increase their entrepreneurial skills to deliver.

“I’m happy to observe that in the last four years at least, the footprints of private sector in the real estate is increasing.

“What government can do to strengthen that space is to use its fiscal and monetary policies muscles to make it even more prolific to play by bringing down the rates – interest and lending rates.

“Government should ensure long tenure financing and these are conversations I’m having with my colleagues, the Minister of Finance, budget and national planning,” he said.

Fashola added that houses of assemblies of states and attorney generals must rise up and intervene on behalf of their residents by way of rent control.

He noted that housing must be discussed along the terms of ownership and rental.

“Where you have people asking citizens to pay three years’ rent in advance for salaries earned monthly in arrears, there is a mismatch there; housing will never be affordable and the bulk of property do not belong to the government but private citizens,” Fashola said.

He urged the attorney generals to get creative through legislation to solve the problem.

According to him, Nigeria needs to redesign its building method for those with economic power to demand and consume.

The minister debunked claims that Nigeria had a housing deficit of between 17 million and 22 million, saying the claim was unrealistic as there were empty houses all over the major urban centres.

He said the Federal Government was perfecting plans to ensure the next census would include home ownership to ascertain the country’s housing deficit figure.

He noted that housing deficit was an urban problem, and that land was a very important component in addressing housing problems in the country, yet he said the Federal Government did not control land but states.

Also speaking, Lafarge Africa Chief Executive Officer, Mr Khaled El Dokani, said the Concrete Ideals platform was for strategic discussions of critical and tropical issues in the area of construction and other sections of its value chain.

Dokani said the commitment of the Federal Government and its agencies to encourage private sector involvement in critical policy formation could not be overemphasised.

“Today’s event signals a call for all key stakeholders within the sector to work together and find lasting solutions to Nigeria’s urban housing issues,” he said.

He said the company would remain committed in providing building solutions through innovative products for economic growth and development.

Miss Amaka Nwaokolo, founder, Blue Tower House, said access to finance was vital in solving housing problem.

Nwaokolo urged the government to provide affordable finance to real estate players to solve housing issues in the country to ease the burden that would be passed to end users.





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I made mistake in picking Atiku as my Running Mate in 1999 – Obasanjo laments



Former President Olusegun Obasanjo


Ex-President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has disclosed that when he served as a head of state in 1999 as a civilian, he had made a mistake picking his vice.

Obasanjo made this statement while fielding questions from secondary school students at a program at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Obasanjo admitted to making many “genuine mistakes” in his life while interacting with the students, but claimed that God helped him overcome them.

“Choosing my number two when I wanted to be president was one of the errors I made. But God saved me because it was an honest mistake, said Obasanjo.

Obasanjo while interacting with the students revealed that he had made many “genuine mistakes” in his life; saying, however, that God made him overcome them.

“One of the mistakes I made was picking my number two when I wanted to become the president. But because it was a genuine mistake, God saved me,” Obasanjo said.
According to reports, Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential contender, served as Obasanjo’s second-in-command from 1999 to 2007.

Obasanjo and Atiku clashed with one and other for years while in government over matters they couldn’t agree on.

When discussing his second error, Obasanjo claimed that it occurred when General Sani Abacha, a late military ruler, was going to arrest him and the American Embassy offered him asylum which he refused.

Obasanjo claimed that had God not intervened, he would have perished during his time in prison.

“When Abacha wanted to arrest me, I was told by the American ambassador that they will arrest me and that America has asked that I should be given an asylum. I said no. It could have been a mistake because I could have lost my life.”

The Balogun Owu stated that God had saved him from many things that could have been a mistake.

When asked whether the youths could be allowed to rule the nation, Obasanjo expressed worries, stating that youths may never come into power should the current trend in Nigeria continues.

The former president regretted that in spite of the “Not Too Young to Run” campaign, people contesting to rule the nation are between 70 and 80 years old.

“How can the youths run,” he asked, adding that the amount of money involved in going into politics would not allow youths to get to leadership positions.

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Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu

No fewer than 5000 Lagosians are to be enrolled in the Ilera Eko Social Health Plan – courtesy of the Lagos State Executive Council.

The gesture is to celebrate Governor Sanwo-Olu’s 57th birthday on June 25 and in the spirit of his compassion for the indigent and vulnerable.

Beneficiaries will have access to quality health care services and drugs under the ILERA EKO Standard Plan at no cost to them.

Nominees will be selected from the Lagos State Social Protection Register. An equal number of the 5000 eligible beneficiaries are to be selected from the five IBILE divisions of the State and will enjoy Universal Health Coverage.

These beneficiaries have been identified using a multi-dimensional poverty index tool, which includes the poverty means-testing to ensure accuracy, reliability and validity of the data generated.

ILERA EKO is the State Social Health Insurance Plan managed by Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA), which offers the basic minimum health plan that provides quality and affordable healthcare for all Lagos residents, especially the middle and low-income earners as well as the vulnerable.

Services on the Plan include: General consultations; Specialist Consultations; Management of uncomplicated chronic diseases (Diabetes, Hypertension, Asthma); Maternal and Newborn Care; Normal Delivery and Caesarean Section; Dental Care (with Composite filling) and Eye Care, including glasses.

There are also minor and major surgeries; laboratory tests and scans; HIV/TB Testing services; Emergency Health Services; Cancer Care and the provision of prescribed drugs.

A policy cycle under the ILERA EKO Health Insurance Plan runs for 12 calendar months in which an enrolee’s policy is due for renewal before the 25th day of the 12th month to enable such subscribers have access to care the next month (Start of renewed policy cycle).

The selected beneficiaries will commence access to care from July 1, 2022.

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Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Wife remanded as UK Court denies them bail



Senator Ike Ekweremadu and his wife


An Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court in the United Kingdom did not grant bail to Ike Ekweremadu, former Deputy Senate President, and Beatrice, his wife, who were apprehended over attempted harvesting of organs.

It was gathered that the Nigerian couple was detained by the Metropolitan Police when they tried harvesting an unnamed child’s organs.

When the Senator was arraigned on Thursday, the court refused to grant him bail but ordered that he should be remanded till July 7

The Metropolitan Police while confirming the arrest said in a statement that the pair were charged to court on Thursday following an investigation by the police’ specialist crime team.

“Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55 (10.9.66) of Nigeria is charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting,” the statement read.

“Ike Ekweremadu, 60 (12.05.62) of Nigeria is charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting.

They have both been remanded in custody and will appear at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court later today.

“A child has been safeguarded and we are working closely with partners on continued support.”

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