The United Nations (UN) has advised the Nigerian Government to start taxing vacant houses in the country.
Speaking at a news conference in Abuja, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Adequate Housing, Leilana Farha said there was a need for the Nigerian Government to address housing challenges in the country by imposing vacant home tax on citizens.
Farha expressed concern over human rights crisis presented by poor living conditions in Nigeria’s informal settlements, saying the informal settlements house about 69% of the urban population.
She further stressed that there was an estimated housing shortage of 22 million units in Nigeria.
Farha explained that most residents in Nigeria’s ballooning informal settlements live without access to even the most basic services, like clean pipe-borne water, emphasising that the residents lacked security of tenure, forcing them to live in constant fear of being evicted.
Farha’s words: “My 10 days fact findings visit to Nigeria has presented an economic inequality in the country, which has reached an extreme level and is playing itself out clearly in the housing sector.
“At the same time, newly built luxury dwellings are springing up throughout cities and made possible often through the forced eviction of poor communities. These units do not fulfil any housing need, with many remaining vacant as vehicles for money laundering or investment.”
What you should know: Presently, Nigeria’s housing deficit is about 22 million units, and for a country with a population of nearly 200 million people, it will require a minimum of an additional 2 million housing units per annum for 10 years.
The Nigerian government, however, estimated that the housing sector would need about $400 billion investment over the next 25-30 years to resolve this deficit. On the other hand, the World Bank said bridging the deficit would cost the country about N59.5 trillion, which further tallies with the estimation of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria which puts it at about N56 trillion.