By Franca Ofili
Abuja – The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has commended the United Nations Human Settlements Programmes (UN-Habitat), for its commitment towards addressing the global challenges of urbanisation.
A statement signed by Mrs. Bode Akinola, Director, Press and Public Relations in the ministry, said that Fashola gave the commendation in Abuja on Tuesday while receiving a delegation of the UN-Habitat Mission in his office.
It said that the delegation came to brief the minister on the outcome of the validation workshop on the evaluation of the memorandum of understanding between the Federal Government and UN-Habitat which was held in Abuja.
The statement quoted the minister as requesting the UN body to supply more information on the areas of intended collaboration.
“As a conscious national strategy, Nigeria will look out for how investment will grow the economy and develop its people,” the statement further quoted Fashola as saying.
Fashola said that the challenges of housing were more pronounced in urban cities than in rural communities, adding that there was need to get data on where people want houses, the type of houses and affordability.
According to him, there is the need to work out a strategy on housing to meet the interest of all stakeholders.
He assured the delegation of the Federal Government’s readiness to continue to collaborate and work with the UN body to achieve the clear mandate of the UN- Habitat programme.
Earlier, the Head of the delegation, Dr Naison Mutizwa-Mangiza, had told the minister that some key outcomes of the validation workshop were the review of the memorandum of Understanding between UN-Habitat and Nigeria, and the setting up of a technical committee to review the MOU.
Others, he said, included data collection on housing infrastructure, project conceptualisation and management, as well as knowledge and technology transfer.
He also briefed the minister on the forthcoming conference of ministers of housing scheduled for Abu Dhabi in 2020, and extended an invitation to Nigeria to attend.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the Minister of State for Works and Housing, Mr Abubakar Aliyu, had, at the workshop, expressed satisfaction with the level of cooperation and harmonious working relationship between the government and the UN-Habitat Mission.
Aliyu said that he was particularly happy with the implementation of the various sustainable human settlements programmes in Nigeria, especially the MOU government signed with the UN-Habitat in 2001 to establish a UN-Habitat Programme Support Office (HAPSO), in Abuja.
Aliyu explained that the mandate of HAPSO was derived from the UN-Habitat’s United Nations General Assembly global mandate to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.
According to him, the 2014-2015 MOU specifically mandates HAPSO to assist interested governments at federal, state and local levels in Nigeria.
“The assistance will be through technical cooperation, field projects, provision and exchange of expertise, networking, public information, capacity building and consulting services under the guidance of UN-Habitat’s Regional Office for Africa,” he said.
The minister said that the workshop was organised to give opportunity to stakeholders to review the operations of UN-Habitat Programme Support office (HAPSO) in Nigeria, adding that the HAPSO office became operational in Abuja in October 2003.
“We believe the urbanisation challenges in Africa require African solutions.
“It is for this reason that Nigeria has been at the fore front of championing the African urban agenda which is aimed at mobilising nations to unite in their quest for ‘home made’ solutions to urbanisation challenges,” he explained.