The Nigerian government has said that so far it has executed the National Housing Project which started in 2016, in 35 out of 36 states of the federation with 1,250 contractors taking part in the initiative.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, disclosed this on Wednesday in Abuja, at the 2023 Budget Defence Session of the Ministry, before the Senate Committees on Works and Housing.
He also revealed that the government owes contractors handling road and housing projects across the country outstanding liabilities at the sum of N956billion as of September 2022.
This he attributed to drastic budget cuts earmarked for the two sectors in the 2023 fiscal year.
Of the N956billion outstanding liabilities, the federal government owes contractors handling the National Housing Scheme N191.75 billion, while the remaining balance of N765 billion is owed to contractors handling road projects across the country from the total contract value of N10.4trillion.
According to him, the 6, 000 Housing units have created 46 construction sites across the country, 29, 030 direct employment and 57, 874 indirect employment.
“The National Housing Project is very much on the course but the problems of the paucity of funds through drastic budget slash and outstanding liabilities of N191.75 billion, need to be urgently looked into.
“In the 2022 fiscal year, while the total capital votes for both Works and Housing Components of the Ministry was N441.18 billion, the proposal made for the 2023 fiscal year is N146 billion.
“Out of the proposed N146 billion as capital expenditure for the entire Ministry in 2023 fiscal year, only N45billion is earmarked for the Housing sector,” he said.
Making similar submissions to the Senate Committee on Works, the Minister said ” The main challenge to highways development in the country remains inadequate funding.
” As of date, the government is committed to highway contractors to the tune of about N10.4trillion while a total of about N765billion are unpaid certificates for executed works.
“Secondly, the shortage of younger Engineers/Technical officers in the Ministry as a result of the embargo on employment is affecting proficient project supervision at the sites.”
However, Chairmen and members of the committees commended the Minister for a series of roads and Housing projects executed across the country in the face of scarce resources and other challenges.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Housing, Senator Sam Egwu (PDP Ebonyi North), told the Minister to use the proposed N45 billion capital votes in the 2023 budget to complete the remaining 3,000 units of the 6,000 units National Housing Project.
At the Committee on Works, headed by Senator Adamu Aliero (PDP Kebbi Central), the Minister was tasked with ensuring the completion of the 2nd Niger Bridge this year and the critical road projects he highlighted.