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Another Opportunity For Fashola

When he emerged as the favourite of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu,
then incumbent governor of Lagos State, not many persons gave Babatunde
Fashola, a chance. But he soon became governorship candidate of then  Action Congress (AC) in 2006, and eventually
the thirteenth governor of Lagos State.

Subsequent to his outstanding performance as governor of
Lagos State and as an intensely loyal party supporter, President Muhammadu
Buhari appointed him minister in 2015. He was put in charge of the ministry of
power, works and housing, a task considered too daunting for one person to take
on. Consequently, his debut performance fell below par.

Surprisingly, the former governor was one of 14 ministers
from Buhari’s first term who were reappointed last month by the president for
his second term administration. During the official inauguration of the 43
ministers on Wednesday, August 21, 2019, the president announced that Sale
Mamman would head the ministry of power.

Regardless, Fashola still held on to the ministry of works
and housing, with Abubakar Aliyu declared as the minister of state for the
ministry. With this appointment, Fashola has been divested of his three-in-one
portfolio which weighed heavily on him and was responsible for his lacklustre
accomplishments.

As works and housing minister, he will certainly be faced
with challenges one of which is to give careful attention to housing and
construction of roads in his second ministerial journey. Housing provision and
road infrastructural development suffered a huge setback in his last tenure
because of his focus on power.

With the timely eradication of power from his schedule, the
former Lagos State governor will no longer be extenuated if he fails to
strategise better and devote more energy to his assignments and facilitate the
completion of many of the major road projects in the country.The truth is the
lack of early and regular maintenance of our roads have increased accident rate
and elevated criminal activities nationwide. But beyond the completion of roads
within appropriate time, a new innovation in financing road development
projects is long overdue.

Equally critical is housing. This sector under Fashiola’s
watch deserves special attention. It is time the federal authorities considered
seriously getting involved in social housing which is the global trend. If this
novel development is put on ground, substantial impact by the ministry will be
made on Nigerians.

Addressing the issue of allocation of houses to
beneficiaries to undermine the activities of speculators who profiteer and
sabotage the process is imperative. Also, Nigerians deserve a functional
mortgage to enable them to take up space in housing schemes across the country.

Since after Buhari’s re-election in March this year, some
Nigerians and real estate experts have been clamouring for the separation of
the ministry of power, works and housing to enable the government concentrate
on the three critical sectors of the economy. With a partial disengagement
done, it is expected that issues in the sector will be addressed.

The combination of the three huge sectors into one ministry
was one of the biggest mistakes of the Buhari’s administration’s first tenure.
Following the error, obstacles in the sector, especially housing and roads,
were inadequately undertaken.

But with the imperfect unbundling of the ministry, the
construction industry will benefit since its initial encumbrance has been taken
away. If things will be done properly, now is the time for Minister Fashola to
take stock of all federal road projects and housing schemes across the country
and give them the mandatory consideration.

Those uncompleted housing estates in the country may now be
built. We need to give necessary publicity and professional involvement to
those projects that are unknown to professionals in the industry. Thus, the
structural conditions of houses in the various housing schemes have to be
examined. Some of them are of low quality such that when occupants move in,
they are faced with early maintenance crisis.

The predicaments of housing and construction industry in the
country seem so complicated or compounded that they defy conventional approach.
Deep ratiocination and strategy might not solve them except through a radical
means that will require a strong political will which one is certain Raji
Fashola might want to demonstrate to justify his undeserved second chance.

Alalibo lives in Port Harcourt.

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