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Ogun fails to allocate houses to subscribers 2 years after payment

Over 200 applicants are at loggerheads with the Ogun State Government over delays in allocating houses to them more than two years after they made…

Over 200 applicants are at loggerheads with the Ogun State Government over delays in allocating houses to them more than two years after they made payment into the government’s coffers.

Governor Dapo Abiodun hinted that he inherited over 500,000 housing deficits upon assuming office on May 29, 2019. He admitted the daunting challenge, but vowed to close the gap by at least 50 per cent before the expiration of his administration; possibly after eight years.

“We met on the ground a very wide gap of housing deficit in the state, and by our postulation, we have nothing less than 500,000 housing gap in Ogun State.

“And we know that four years, eight years down the line, we may not be able to fill that gap, but we should be sure that at the end of the day we achieve nothing less than 50 per cent of that gap. It looks as if it’s a tall order, but with the market in place, we believe that we can achieve that, not forgetting the fact that Ogun State today is the industrial hub of the nation,” the Commissioner for Housing, Jagunmolu Omoniyi, had told newsmen in September, 2020.\

To bridge the gap, the government embarked on a series of housing projects in Abeokuta, Sagamu, Ijebu-Ode, Ilaro, among other towns.

In July, 2021, Gov Abiodun inaugurated a 130-housing unit in Kemta, Idi Aba in Abeokuta. The project, christened Prince Court Estate, is the first phase of the 300 detached and semi-detached two and three-bedroom structures.

There, Abiodun said although shelter was one of the basic needs of human beings, it had continued to be one of the most expensive assets to be owned by individuals, adding that his government would harness all resources to provide affordable shelter for the people of Ogun.

He said, “This is part of our deliberate approach to ensure that Abeokuta, the capital city of Ogun State, has befitting infrastructure and amenities that will make it stand out as a capital city, not only in Nigeria, but throughout Africa. We are doing this in collaboration with the United Kingdom’s Future Cities Project.”

He added that Gateway Mortgage Bank had been directed to provide the much-needed mortgage for subscribers of the housing units.

However, it was gathered that the housing scheme appears to be battling integrity as about 200 subscribers have not been handed their property more than two years after payment of 5,500,000 each.

The applicants, represented by Adeyemi Aremu, cried out over the delay and accused Governor Abiodun’s administration of failing to deliver on its promise.

Aremu, while explaining that the housing scheme was managed by the Ogun State Ministry of Housing, presented receipts to support his claim, revealing that over 200 qualified applicants had been approved and listed, but without allocation.

Aremu lamented that Gateway Mortgage Bank had not protected its clients or ensured they received their homes, even as many continued to pay mortgage instalments with interest.

He said, “The Gateway Mortgage Bank should have secured our homes upon making an agreement.”

Reacting, the housing commissioner confirmed the non-allocation of the houses to the applicants, saying the market value of the property had gone up as high as N20m as against the N5.5m paid by them.

He noted that the government immediately activated a stakeholders’ meeting to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

He said, “The truth of the matter is that the delay in the process of allocation to applicants was caused by the sudden need for variations in the cost of the property as a result of galloping inflation as witnessed in the last year; as the cost value of the houses have gone up as against the N5.5m initially paid by the applicants, with such houses commanding up to N20m in the open market.

“Consequently, the government plans to engage all the applicants through various stakeholders’ meetings, as there will be an adjustment in the price of the property.

“To this end, those who are willing and able to meet up with the little adjustment will immediately get their allocations attended to and delivery structured within record time at the conclusion of the stakeholders’ meetings, while those who cannot afford the adjustment will be free to request for instant refund of their deposits, plus CBN’s prescribed interest rate.”

Meanwhile, the applicants rejected the two options from the government, insisting they must be given their due allocations.

One of the applicants, Adeboye Kilani, explained that some applicants got their allocation in the first and second phases, saying those affected belonged to the third phase.

While speaking during an interactive programme on Splash FM 106.7, Abeokuta, Kilani described the government’s position as a breach of contract which could not stand.

He said, “Some of us are retirees and we paid with our pension. Where do they expect us to see money to pay up to N20m? The governor has to do something on this because this is a breach of agreement. We have all paid fully.

“Will the government also demand an additional payment from those who have gotten their property and occupied them?”

Responding to a question on whether he thought the amount paid that time was enough to complete the property in question, Kilani responded, “They called it a carcass. The structure will not be completed. There will be structure and roofing on it and inside it, nothing will be done, no plastering. We will be the ones that’ll complete the buildings before moving in.”

Aremu also rubbished the government’s justification for the price hike of over 300 per cent, insisting that the delay in allocation was not their fault, saying, “We vehemently reject the refund or increment.”

He asked the government to acknowledge that the delay in prompt allocation after payment caused the so-called price variation and to take responsibility for defaulting.

He outlined the history of the transaction: applicants purchased forms for 5,000 and paid 5.5m for each house, with retired civil servants paying a discounted rate of 4.95m.

He explained that, “These payments were made in 2020 and 2021. Despite this, no allocations have been made to over 200 qualified applicants whose names were approved and published.

“What excuse can there be three years after we fulfilled our part of the bargain by duly paying? Are we responsible for the delay?”

He warned that any price increase from the 5.5m to 20m or refund would amount to fraud and erode public trust in the state government.

Another subscriber, Olusola Akinlotan, said that the government should bear the brunt rather than “playing the fast one on the applicants.”

Akinlotan said the government, through its officials, met with the applicants three times and that the only reason given for the delay was the planned commissioning by the then Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.

On his part, Matthew Dada, another applicant, questioned the government’s silence on the non-allocation.

He said, “If they really mean good for the people who have already paid, why is it now that the commissioner is just talking, and this is after one Mr Aremu raised alarm over the issue last week.

“Everyone has been in pain of what is happening in Ogun State. This is not right at all.

“There is no part of the world where this is happening. They all travel round the world; is this the practice they see in America, England or Germany? Someone is buying a house and has paid fully and yet three years down the line the house has not been given. This is not right!

Meanwhile, the commissioner described the alleged scandal as “an illusion by fifth columnists.”

He added that individuals behind the alleged scandal “are criminals in civil regalia who tried unsuccessfully to manipulate the laudable initiative, especially the ongoing Ogun State GRA Regeneration Scheme, especially that of Ibara, Abeokuta.”

Omoniyi, in a statement, said, “In actual fact, those who are behind this fake news are individuals who had tried unsuccessfully in the past to undermine and manipulate the ongoing Ibara Housing Estate Regeneration Scheme for selfish considerations.

“They, therefore, resorted to propaganda and cheap blackmail to paint the government and its laudable projects black in the eyes of the people, not knowing that the good people of Ogun State are too sophisticated to fall for these machinations.”

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