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Fashola Commissions CHOIS Garden Estate, Abijo, Says Performance Records Should Be Basis For Voting In Next Elections
• "The issue in the coming elections is not about religion or ethnicity, but about what defines the well being of Nigerians", he maintains
• Describes the promise of low cost houses for Lagosians by PDP governorship candidate as deceitful

Mar 12, 2015 - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, Thursday commissioned the 350–unit Chois Garden Estate, Abijo GRA in Ibeju Lekki saying that voting in the next elections should be based on record of performance of the contending political parties.

Governor Fashola, who later visited one of the allottees, Mr. Pat Obiora, who had just moved into his home in the estate with his family, also insisted that the issue in the coming elections was not about ethnicity, religion or language but about people and what will enhance their living standards.

The Governor said as a result of the various housing schemes which the State Government has embarked upon and delivered in the last six years, thousands of Nigerians now have jobs and means of livelihood as well as decent places of shelter where they could call home and also raise their families.

He said in the last six years, his administration, a government of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has embarked on numerous housing projects, both singularly and in partnership with members of the organized private sector, adding that the result has been an emerging massive aggregation of housing units across the State being made available to residents on mortgage and at affordable costs.

Citing the Chois Garden Estate as example of the job creation benefit of the housing projects, Governor Fashola noted, "When you see these people in purple uniforms, six years ago they did not have this uniform; many of them did not have work, but it was a partnership between your Government, an APC Government, and Private sector, First World Communities, under a strategic cooperative home ownership incentive scheme that gave them the job and the uniform".

The Governor told the people, "Now, that agreement was fine, we provided land they added initiative but we needed money. Yes, Government put a grant in it, we backed it with your taxes, but that was just to start. First City Monument Bank (FCMB) continued to lend to the project because they believe in the model and in the idea".

"So what we sat down and did in our offices has had reverberating, economic consequences in the lives of our people. Because of that partnership, several of the young men and women you see in the purple shirts can now get up in the morning and say with dignity, 'I am going to work' ", he said.

According to the obviously elated Governor Fashola, "A few weeks ago, we were in Agbowa where we delivered a housing estate of 460 units; today we are at Abijo where we are delivering a housing estate of 324 units. I have just driven through Sangotedo where we are painting and finishing, I think, about 540 units and in Ibeshe in Ikorodu, we have 722 Units.

"In Surulere, in Iponri, 144 Units are under construction, in Ajara in Badagry we have over 500 units, in Igbogbo, Ikorodu, there are two units there culminating to over 200 units, and this is going on in no less than 25 places in Lagos", the Governor said.

He explained that he found it necessary to mention the various housing projects across the State in order to make the point about the choice before the electorates in the coming elections adding, "There is Election; that is why it is important because you have to make a choice between our model and the other party's model".

Commenting on the housing model of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-controlled Federal Government, Governor Fashola said while the APC controlled Lagos State Government houses could be seen and known to be real, the Federal Government have continued to make unrealistic proposals saying they had borrowed $300 million from the World Bank which at that time would have meant roughly N50 billion for the whole of Nigeria.

"Three years ago, Lagos was budgeting about N40 billion for housing alone in Lagos. They (Federal Government) called us to a meeting then to come and share N50 billion for the whole of Nigeria and we told them they were wasting our time", the Governor said.

He added, "But that was not only the problem; that $300 million what did they want to do with it? They wanted to use it for mortgage refinancing, not to build houses. That was what the Minister of Finance said they were doing with the $ 300 Million. Now what is mortgage refinancing? It means that you must first find a house of your own and go to bank and take a loan of over 20 percent and after taking the loan they now re- finance your home. So where is the house you want to buy if they are not building?"

"Now, assuming that all of us could actually get that loan, they reported that 66,000 people had applied and that they had shortlisted 23,000 out of 66,000. So let us say that every one of those 23,000 got it. Divide that number by 36 states. It means that no State will get more than 638 houses", Governor Fashola said.

The Governor expressed joy that within four weeks his administration had commissioned 460 housing units in Agbowa, 324 units in Ibeshe, adding that there are more than 500 units in Shangotedo. "That is the difference between us and them", he said.

"House is not paper. I heard that their Governors came to Lagos, I hope that somebody took them across the Lekki Link Bridge? So that instead of waiting for the Federal Government to come and build the second Niger Bridge, they should get up and go and do their own work", Governor Fashola said.

According to the Governor, "That Bridge was built without a kobo from the Federal Government. I hope that somebody took them round our housing estates so that they should get up and go and do some of what we are doing. I know they came for tutorial; I hope they learnt the right things?"

Advising the PDP to stop engaging in acts of desperation, Fashola told the PDP Governors, "It is too late; a Presidential election is fought and won on the over six years performance records of the incumbent and not what he does in four weeks to the election; so you better go back to your states and make sure you deliver your states because Lagos is gone already".

Still commenting on the other party's models, Governor Fashola, who recalled the problem the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is currently having with their housing scheme, noted, "You know the virus inside the scheme is the Federal Government. Labour cannot build its own housing scheme".

"The representative has told you here that with a 15 percent equity contribution you will get your keys; that, for me, is affordability. That, for me, is what will not push people towards temptation; that is what makes people comfortable, that once they could pay 15 percent they would pay the rest gradually until they finish. That is how people get their homes across the whole world and Nigeria should not be different", the Governor said.

He explained further, "Anybody who is working, who chooses a reasonable accommodation commensurate with his monthly income should be able to pay a deposit and pay gradually over fifteen years, twenty years or throughout the period of his life.

"When you ask people who get their money in arrears at the end of the month to come and pay 100 percent, N2 Million in advance, where do they get the money? So if you really want to stop corruption this is the way to do it, provide mortgages to make housing affordable for people", he said adding, "So this is the difference between us. We are not paper, we are brick and mortar and we are job creators as you can see with all these people here".

Fielding questions from newsmen later while visiting one of the allottees, Mr. Pat Obiora, the Governor reiterated that the issue in the coming elections was not about ethnic group or religion but about the people pointing out that if it were otherwise, people like Pat Obiora and others would not have the opportunity to own houses in the estate or in the State.

"I came here at the invitation of Mr. Pat Obiora who is one of the allottees of this Estate and he said he wanted me to stop-bye in his home. He has turned it into a very beautiful home; his children are already settled here. For me, this is the reward really of our interventions and I am pleased that I can see somebody, and there are a couple of them even though the Estate is just relatively new, raising families in this kind of environment, peaceful, open, safe and secure", he said.

Reiterating that people should continue to focus on issues in the coming elections, Governor Fashola declared, "The issue is not about religion, the issue is not about ethnicity or language. It is about people, it is about the things that defined the well being of Nigerians - Electricity, Shelter, Security, Education and Healthcare and so on".

The Governor, who described the Federal Government's orchestrated Almajirin Education as discriminatory, pointed out that the government could afford to build government schools without stigmatizing them adding, "I disagree with that model; it does not take us forward and I think whatever the models are, what are the contents and the quality of work, what is being produced from those schools?".

Commenting on the promise of the PDP gubernatorial candidate in Lagos to build low cost houses for Lagosians if elected, Governor Fashola, who noted that the candidate was yet to tell Lagosians where he would find the low cost funds, low cost labour and low cost cement and other building materials, added, "I do not make promises to deceive people, I make promises that are informed, that are researched and that are practical and can be delivered".

"That is why I said affordability will be the key for our government and affordability is based on whether you have a job. If you have a job we would provide a home for you if you can pay 15 percent of the cost of the house you want to own as your equity contribution. Even if you want to borrow money from banks today they will tell you to make your own equity contribution. If you do that, then we give you a mortgage for ten years, at nine and half percent maximum. That, for me, is affordability so that you can pay gradually", the Governor said.

Explaining the model by the Federal Government, the Governor the Federal Government was in effect it would borrow $300 million from the World Bank and use it as a mortgage re- financing scheme, which, according to him, means that people must first get a mortgage adding, "You cannot get a mortgage for a house if you cannot find a house, you are not building houses, I am the one building houses, you want to finance houses that are built, that people had gone to take bank loans at 24 percent interest and all you have is $300 million for 36 States? It will not work".

Earlier, in his opening remarks, the Commissioner for Housing, Mr. Bosun Jeje, said the Chois Garden Estate, Abijo, was a design that started since 2009 when the State Government went onto a special relationship with First World Community that led to the forming of Cooperative Home Ownership Incentives.

According to the Commissioner, with this arrangement, First World Community was to build 10,000 housing units in three Senatorial Districts of the State adding, "That is what we are doing and that is why we are having the commissioning this morning".

He said the Estate consists of 35 blocks of 70 units of bungalows, 35 blocks of 70 units of duplexes and 40 units of private access flats adding, "What we have done is to increase the housing Units, to address the housing deficits that we have in Lagos State".

"With this arrangement, we have encouraged private investors to come in partnership with us, and First World Communities is now in place. We have commissioned Agbowa. We are now in Abijo and by this we are encouraging other private investors to come and partner with us because we know that government is not in the building business, we are suppose to be regulating. Come so that Government will be able to do its own duty", he said.

Also present at the commissioning ceremony were former Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr. Tola Kasali, President of CHOIS, General Patrick Manuel Olatunde Reis (rtd), the Onitedo of Itedo, His Royal majesty Oba Tajudeen Elemoro, the Onibedo of Orimedu Lekki, Oba Amusa Atiku and the Executive Secretary, Ibeju Lekki Local Council Development Area, Hon. Dapo Salami as well as other top government functionaries and stakeholders.


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