The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, says the claim that there is a 17 million housing deficit in Nigeria is false and not backed by evidence.
Mr Fashola said he investigated the claim and found it was baseless because nobody knew where it came from, even as many Nigerians believed it.
A statement sent to newsmen from the minister’s special adviser on communications, Hakeem Bello, said Mr Fashola disclosed this in his remarks at the Shelter Afrique 2023 42nd AGM’s roundtable session of African ministers at the congress hall of Transcorp Hilton on Tuesday, 9 May.
The minister explained that using data for planning and decision-making by those with the requisite skills, capacity, and rigour can lead to predictable, orderly and measurable results but can be dangerous in the hands of the unskilled.
Regarding the supposed 17 million housing deficit, the minister said he went the extra mile to verify that claim.
“Of course, I took the view that as Housing Minister, my success depended on working with credible data. So I went in search of the data,” he began.
“Nobody knew where it came from, but they all loved it and were ready to assert it. Indeed, I think they might have thought that something was wrong with me about finding out the truth.
“Happily, the source of the “data” of a housing deficit of 17 million did not prove eternally elusive. I eventually found where it came from.”
Mr Fashola added that the claim was contained in the preface to the 2012 National Housing Policy signed by the minister then in charge of the Ministry of Housing three years before he took office.
“I put a telephone call through to the Minister, who admitted to the preface but said it was prepared by aides, and the pressure of work did not allow sufficient vetting,” he said.
“Needless to say, the Minister confirmed that the data has no verifiable basis. Therefore, I say to those who still choose to live by it, I wish them well on a journey to the unknown from an unknown destination.
“The point I am making here, which needs to be repeated, is that by logical and accountable use of data, if there were a need of 17 million and 1 unit was provided, one would expect that the need would reduce by 1 (one).”