Babatunde Fashola, minister of works, power and housing, says he wants to witness the fulfillment of the Nigerian promise before he dies, and this thought keeps him awake.
Fashola lamented that Nigeria is currently bedevilled by a number of challenges, but he vowed to do his best in tackling them.
“I’m a thinking person and I’m always looking for solutions to solutions. When I’ve found one solution, I’m not always convinced that it’s the best solution, so even when I’m implementing it, I’m looking for ways to make it better,” he told Channels Television in an interview aired on Monday.
“Generally, the promise of this country keeps me awake. I know that it is a country of so much promise; I want to see some of those promises before I die. I want to see sustainable, reliable electricity; I want to see more people get access to electricity.
“I want to see more people pay mortgages for their own homes. I want to see roads in this country smoother… to be more efficient so that people have more pleasant journey time. Nigeria is a very beautiful place.”
He traced that the challenges in the power sector to 1950 when the first electricity ordinance was passed.
“We’ve been trying to generate sustainable energy for 66 years and I’ve spent 6.5, 7 months. I have learnt a lot to convince me that the problems can be solved,” Fashola added.
“I haven’t visited all the power plants but I intend to. I intend to visit all the power facilities so that I understand what I’m expected to manage. If I wanted to do that in a whole month, it wouldn’t be enough.
“One whole year perhaps wouldn’t be enough. But every power plant I go to, every transmission facility I see, every substation that I visit… I visited a nuclear manufacturing plant privately set up a few weeks ago, everything that I saw convinced me that it can be done. The more I see, the more I believe we can solve it.”
AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR CIVIL SERVANTS
Speaking on his housing plans, he said: “There are many people who need accommodation. There are people to build; they just want land, some people want duplexes, some want semi-detached house, some want a flat, one bedroom, or two bedrooms.
“Those are the people that are most at risk and those are the people that should first concern us. So I think what we should first create is to connect between what is available and what is affordable.
“In America, for working people, affordability means the person must not spend more than 20-25 percent of his monthly income on his accommodation and must not spend more than 40 or 50 percent of his total income on utilities. So affordability is not necessarily the unit cost but the payment mode.
“Affordability, we are looking at the civil servant as our guide. Civil servants around level nine to about level 14/15; that income bracket is not extrapolated to the private sector who are the people who earn this kind of money also I the private sector; taxi drivers, food vendors but what is called a benchmark for the kind of people who fall within the cadre that we would be really concerned about in the short term.