Abia State Government has entered into partnership with a Federal Government Agency, Family Homes Fund Limited, to provide affordable housing for low income earners in the State.

In an exclusive interview with Abia Online, the Managing Director, Abia State Housing And Property Development Corporation, Arc Alozie Echefu Nwankwo in his office at Ehimiri Housing Estate, Umuahia, disclosed that it is in line with the Agency’s mandate to develop properties for citizens and residents alike.

According to him, the terms of the partnership between the State Government and the Federal Government under the National Social Housing Programme stipulates that the State government will provide the land, an enabling environment and offtakers of the housing units while the FG through its Agency provides funding for the construction of the project.

It was gathered that the administration of  Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has acquired lands across the three senatorial zones in the State for the project including 50 acres of land in Ovom, Abia South, and while arrangements have been concluded for the acquisition of subsequent parcels of land in Umuahia and Ohafia for Abia Central and Abia North respectively.

In the words of Arc Alozie Echefu Nwankwo, “We’re hoping to be on site in the second quarter of 2022 with the housing development in Abia South and in the third quarter, we hope to move to Abia Central in Umuahia with Ohafia in Abia North to follow in 2023,” noting that, “we will be looking to develop in phase one, about 400 housing units in Abia South and 600 housing units in Abia central.”

Arc Nwankwo informed that with the partnership, the National Social Housing Programme will be looking to deliver housing units from as low as 2million Naira expressing optimism that with such a low price, the number of people in Abia State that will have access based on affordability of the housing units will be high.

“In order to facilitate these projects, we have appointed development partners. For our project in Aba, Tangent Nig. Ltd will act as the development partner while Cosmo Base Consortium Ltd. will work with ASHPDC for our project in Umuahia”

“So What we’re trying to achieve by virtue of this partnership is a situation whereby people of income as low as 30 to 40 thousand Naira per month will be able to access their own housing, and some modalities have been put in place to ensure that the housing units are successfully delivered to them at the end of the day.”

On who the beneficiaries are, Arc Nwankwo asserted that they will be primarily workers with verifiable incomes such as civil servants and government workers resident within the state while a few will be reserved for some private individuals who meet the criteria which includes affordability, and a verifiable source of income stressing that such sources of income need be verified and consistent, because according to him, the affordability of the estate depends on provision of a mortgage for the payment in  installments for the housing.

He explained further that the partnership will ensure that whoever an offtaker is for the entire period, the source of income is regular as most of the housing units will be given to offtakers on a ten to fifteen year period within which to pay back the cost of the housing and the monthly payment will be very low to give a greater number of people the opportunity to participate.

On completion of the project, the Managing Director explained thus: “The contract we’re going into with the Federal Government Agency and our development partners will be  based on a 12 month period for completion of the units, so from the second quarter of 2022, we’ll have not more than 12 months for the whole 400 units to be completed. Obviously we’ll hope that within six months, we’ll be able to deliver the first 200, so that people can begin to move the estate. For Abia central in Umuahia, we’ll be hoping to be on-site from the third quarter and again within a six month period, we’ll be able to have at least 20% of the off-takers having taken possession of their property, living in the estate. So it’s a 12 month completion period as a maximum tenure. These timelines are subject to the funds under the National Housing Programme being released to the State within the first quarter of 2022”

It was leant that there is an overwhelming demand for the over 400 housing units, and as such the corporation has restricted chances of getting one to people within some institutions chief of which are staff of the Nigerian Institute of Languages, with a number of units set aside for members of the public, which will be based on first come first serve.

The MD said anyone interested should access the form through the Corporation’s website so as to be able to download both the an application and expression of interest form, while filled forms should be returned to the corporations office in Umuahia.

For flexibility purpose and in order to accommodate as many as are interested, the MD pointed out that even when someone who has filled the form is not able to be accommodated within the first 400 units, such a person has a chance in subsequent phases 2 and 3 for Abia South where a wider section of the populace will be able to be accommodated.

He gave the projected completion period as December 2022, when he said, the first set will be able to move in into their houses.

While dispelling a situation where off-takers pay ahead of time and when the project eventually fails, it becomes difficult to refund them, he gave strong indication that no offtaker will  pay anything towards the housing units until the housing units are completed and safe, assuring that, “The day you pay your deposit and your mortgage arrangements and being signed up, you’re moving into your property. The only outlay is your registration fee once   your application has been accepted and the price is as low as N5000. So nobody is paying anything towards the housing units until they are complete and ready to be moved in.”

Architect Nwankwo who reiterated that he is focused on the mandate of the State Governor to provide affordable housing for residents across Abia, maintained that, “We want to put smiles on the faces of Ndi Abia to make sure people will be moving from tenancy to home ownership and that is the focus of the Okezie Ikpeazu led administration to ensure that before the end of this tenure, that we would have at least 1000 residents of Abia who are no longer paying rent but proud home owners.”

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