Leilana Farha, the United Nations’ (UN) Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, has called attention to the housing crisis in Nigeria. According to her, “Nigeria’s housing sector is in a complete crisis. Existing programmes will hardly make even a small dent in addressing the ever-growing housing need.” Farha, who made this known while addressing journalists in Abuja on Monday, September 22, also noted that there was a lack of official data for the government to develop an effective housing policy. As a result, the government has allowed informal settlements to balloon in many urban centres. In these unplanned settlements, conditions are inhumane.
Indeed, Farha explained that what she saw during a 10-day visit to Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt was “the most severe” she had encountered worldwide. These informal settlements lack access to even the most basic services, like running water. Inhabitants live in constant fear of being evicted because they lack any security of tenure. The crisis in the housing sector is put in bold relief by the fact that 69 per cent of the urban population live in these deplorable informal settlements. It reflects the extreme economic inequality in the country, with an estimated housing shortage of 22 million units.