Background of the Study
Housing is an integral element of a nation‟s economy and its backward and forward linkages with other parts of the economy closely bond people‟s needs, demands and social processes. These linkages allow housing to act as an important engine for sustainable development and poverty reduction in both society and the economy, and without a functioning housing sector, urban centers cannot be established or developed. A functioning housing sector offers appropriate, affordable housing and sustainable patterns of urbanization which are critical for the future of our ever-urbanizing planet (Arias, 1993).
Public housing delivery for civil servants in Niger State started after the creation of the State in 1976 when some government quarters were constructed under the supervision of Niger State Ministry of Works, Transport and Housing. Later, Niger State Housing Corporation was created in 1979 for housing delivery in the state. However, between 1976 and 2007 less than 3,000 houses were developed by the public sector. Niger State Evolving Strategy for Sustainable Housing (NSESSH, 2007).
In order to improve on this, the government of Niger State in 2007 embraced the Public Private Partnership (PPP) as an alternative strategy for her housing delivery. This was a position response to the 2nd United Nation (UN) Conference on Human settlement (HABITAT II) in Istanbul, in June, 1996 which advocated the effective and affordable mass housing delivery through Public-Private Partnership (NSESSH, 2007).
Public- Private Partnership (PPP) involves a contract between a public sector authority and a private party, in which the private party provides a public service or project and assumes substantial financial, technical and operational risk in the project. PPP is the partnership of two or more actors at least one of which is public and another from the private business sector. The Niger State administration since 2007 commenced Public- Private Partnership implementation of her housing scheme to the state civil servants with much emphasis on affordability. Niger State Gateway to Land and Housing (NSG&LH, 2007).
According to Aribigbola (2006) housing affordability has been widely recognized as an essential issue in creating sustainable built environment especially in the context of developing world cities. Mbamali and Obiekwe (2001) described affordable housing for a particular income group as the range of houses for which the total monthly repayment costs fall within the monthly repayment capability of the average household in that income group. For AHURI (2004) the rational for housing assistance is to improve housing affordability for those receiving the assistance. Kolawole et al (1998) stressed that, for housing to be affordable for certain level of households, there should be provision for subsidy.
In Nigeria, the national housing policy does not want any Nigerian to spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing expenditure (Aribigbola, 2006).In addition, the 1992 National Housing Strategy defined affordable housing as any housing costing less than 30% of income, though some level of workers have over 30% of their salary being deducted for the repayment of the houses allocated to them. This study sets out to ascertain if the civil servants‟ allotees of the Niger State housing scheme have capacity to afford the repayment schedule.
Statement of the Research Problem.
Mabogunje (2004) stressed that the cost of providing a unit of housing remains out of the reach of the poor because of some other factors that are militating against affordable housing. Thus, brings in the financial dimension - the question of the affordability of housing. The challenge becomes not only to provide the houses but to make the houses affordable to the average Nigerian worker (Onyike, 2007).
However, the Niger State government Mohammed Inuwa (M.I)Wushishi Housing Scheme was meant to provide her citizen (especially State Civil Servants) with affordable housing; how affordable are these houses to the beneficiaries are yet to be ascertained.
Significance of the Study
The study is necessary in order to facilitate the development of large scale housing in Niger state by enabling civil servants with low and medium income to own houses on owner-occupier basis (Niger State Gateway to Land and Housing, 2007). This research work analyses the repayment burdens borne by public sector workers, irrespective of their cadre (whether junior or senior).
It is expected that the findings of the study would inform incumbent and future state governments on how best to maximize the benefits of involving private housing developers in housing delivery, through ensuring that such houses reach as many civil servants as possible and at affordable repayment plans.
Aim and Objectives
The aim of the study is to evaluate the existing repayment schedule for allotees of the PPP housing in Niger State relative to their income, with a view for enhancing the affordability.
The objectives of the study are to:
1. Review past and current efforts of Federal and the Niger State governments in housing development, especially Public –Private Partnerships (PPP).
2. establish the profile of the Niger State Public Sector beneficiaries of the PPP housing development (M.I.Wushishi Housing Estate).
3. evaluate the affordability of the allocated houses to the allotees, under the housing scheme and the existing repayment plan.
4. suggest an improved repayment plan for enhancing affordability of the housing scheme.
Scope and Limitations
The study covered:
Houses within the Mohammed Inuwa (M.I) Wushishi Housing Estate and Civil Servants of Niger State that were allocated houses under the Estate in 2009,the existing formal income based on Consolidated Public Salary Scale (CONPSS) of Public Sector Workers in Niger State as at the time of the study (2011) irrespective of changes in economic circumstances of workers and applicable to all civil servants. Furthermore,
the study viewed the housing cost as amount that would be repaid over a stated period of time, other charges over the life span of the house were not considered.
The study discovered that only M.I.Wushishi Housing Estate was completed and allocated under PPP scheme, hence, the data for the study was obtained only from the estates. As a result, other estates not completed could not be covered by the study.
In addition, only formal salary income for the allotees was considered as source of repayment in the study, other source of income (informal income) was discovered irregular and thus could not be used herein.