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Kaduna State and Qatar Charity Mass Housing Project: A Call To Use The State Social Register

By Yusuf Ishaku Goje

When on the 9th of June, 2023, the Governor of Kaduna State, Senator Uba Sani, accompanied by his immediate predecessor visited the Ambassador of the State of Qatar, many dismissed it as the usual motion without movement in the name of hunting for investors. Even when on the 16th of June, 2023, the Governor entered into a tripartite agreement with the Embassy of the State of Qatar and Qatar Charity to provide mass housing (500,000) for the less privileged and the construction of an Economic City – the perception was still that of skepticism.

This shifted to cautious optimism when on the 15th August, 2023, the Governor performed the groundbreaking of the Qatar Sanabil Project, initiated by Qatar Charity for the construction of the Kaduna Economic City and provision of mass housing for the less privileged in Kaduna State. However, it further shifted to outright optimism on the 21st of January, 2024, when the Governor inspected the ongoing construction of the first phase of mass housing (100) for the less privileged at Millennium City in Kaduna. Also, which includes clinics, shops, poultry farms, and farmlands for wet and irrigation farming.

No doubt, shelter alongside food and clothing are the three most basic needs of life. Hence, this is a welcome development. More so, that the mass housing project is targeting the less privileged. Interestingly, many do not still believe that social housing is a key part of social protection. What usually comes to mind when they think of social protection is only social assistance, social insurance and labor market interventions. A look at the Multidimensional Poverty Index Survey (NBS,2022) shows that the State has 8.04 multidimensional poor, with 73% of households deprived of sanitary facilities and 39% of households by deprivation in housing materials-roofing.

Furthermore, many do not know that section 16 (2,d) of the 1999 Constitution of FGN (as amended) mandates that the State shall direct its policy towards ensuring: that SUITABLE and ADEQUATE SHELTER, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum living wage, old age care and pensions, and unemployment, sick benefits and welfare of the disabled are provided for ALL CITIZENS. While State specific data is not readily available, there are conflicting figures about Nigeria’s housing deficit, however, experts often quote between 17 and 21 million.

Now that the current administration has cleared the initial doubt of many and shown that this mega project has come to stay, it is not yet uhuru. The question before the administration is when the project is completed, will the less privileged be the real beneficiaries? Will the projects be equitably distributed to promote ethno-religious social integration? What modalities are being put in place to ensure the process of distribution is not hijacked by the rich as well as politicized? Aside from coverage, targeting has alway been a challenge when it comes to social protection.

That is why the social register, which has a database of the poor and vulnerable in the State, should be used in targeting the beneficiaries to mitigate abuse of the allocation process. If the register is inadequate, rather than abandon it, it should be updated before time. As this will ensure transparency in the allocation process. Likewise, it will show if there is equity in the process or not. In view of this and recognition that the State over the years has been polarized along religious lines, to enhance social integration, the allocation should ensure beneficiaries of the same faith are not next door neighbors.

Goje is an active citizen, OGP enthusiast and a member of the civil society in Kaduna state.

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