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Life In Shagari Low Cost Estates, Four Decades After

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Between 1979 and 1983, the administration of the then president, the late Alhaji Shehu Shagari, rolled out a comprehensive housing programmes designated as Shagari Low Cost Housing Estate. Shagari, who won the election on the platform of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), had earlier promised to introduce a housing scheme with a view to building an appreciable number of houses for the masses. Though the programme faced many challenges when the promise was actualized, it had a fair spread across the country and was able to bridge the country’s housing deficit gap. Daily Trust Saturday highlights the current states of the estates in some states across the country four decades after.

In Kaduna,  only few houses are still standing

When Shehu Shagari came on board as elected executive  president on October 1, 1979, he caught sight of a prime land located at Barnawa in Kaduna while on a visit to the Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital in the area. Then a farmland, he moved the farm to Kujama and commenced construction of the famous Shagari Estate there.

But Daily Trust Saturday’s findings indicate that many of the one-bedroom and three-bedroom houses built  have been sold out. While some owners renovated them, others demolished them and rebuilt new ones. Only a few of the original houses are still standing.

A community leader, Sarkin Shagari Barnawa, Muhammad Abubakar, told Daily Trust Saturday that some of the houses had been sold for between N6,000 and N14,000.

“At that time, one-bedroom was sold at N6,000, while three-bedroom was sold at N14,000. Later, two bedrooms were built.  But I have forgotten how much they were sold for,” he said.

Abubakar  added that the  houses were of a high quality standard.

“Even though the houses were built with a little above N1,000, they were solid buildings because till date, there are a few of them that are still standing. If they were not solid, they would have fallen apart,” he said.

An occupant of one of the houses, Malam Kabiru Musa, said most of the houses had been transformed completely from their original form. “There was a time I tried to drill a nail into the building, it was a struggle before I was able to do so. This shows the quality of the materials that were used to build the houses in those days. I wish estate developers emulated such standard in the present times,” he said.

The entrance to Shagari Estate in Barnawa, Kaduna State

Niger residents rate estate high

The Shagari Low-Cost Estate    in Minna, the Niger State capital, is popularly known as Bosso Low-Cost Estate. The houses at the estate comprise two and three bedroom bungalows.  Each row has both two and three bedroom bungalows.

Findings by our correspondent show that some of the houses had been sold out to private individuals by the Fourth Republic governor of the state, Abdulkadir Abdullahi Kure.

Daily Trust Saturday gathered that Bagudu Construction Company popularly known as BCC was among the constructors of the 1,500 housing units of the estate. It also constructed similar estates in Bida and Suleja Towns in the state which were also sold out to private individuals by Governor  Kure between 1999 and 2007.

Also, there are 60 housing units at the Bida Federal Low Cost Housing Estate along Bida-Badeggi-Agaie Road as well as Saida Low Cost, Suleiman Barau Road, Suleja, Niger State.

An occupant of one of the houses, Malam Umar Larat, told our correspondent that members of the House of Assembly were the first dwellers of  the estate during the Shagari regime.

“None of the modern estates has beaten the Shagari Low-Cost Estate in terms of standard and quality of materials because the structures are very solid. Not every nail can penetrate the walls of  the houses at the Shagari Low-Cost Estate, especially the concrete nails. You can’t compare them with other housing estates built by current governments,” he said.

One of the occupants in Saida Low Cost, Suleja, Malam Ibrahim Abdullahi, who spoke on how some of the houses were sold and renovated, said: “After buying from the government, individuals then fenced them, while others changed the roofs entirely.”

“Some people renovated their own, while others demolished their own and built new ones. But majority of them still live in the estate, because the buildings are very solid,” he added.

Bosso Low-cost Estate, Minna, Niger State

Most houses transformed to modern buildings in Kano  

In Kano, the Shagari Estates are situated in two locations. The first known as Shagari Quarters is along the famous Zoo Road, while the second one is at Sharada Residential area, opposite the Sharada Industrial Layout.

The Shagari Quarters is surrounded by settlements such as Tudunmaliki, Arewawa, Rafinkuka, Medile, Sabuwar Gandu and Shekar Barde.

Salisu Ali, an octogenarian and a resident of Shagari Quarters, told our reporter how he had seen the yesterday and today in the development process of the Shagari Quarters.

The estate has 12 sections of eight housing units, all constructed as two-bedroom flats each. The entire estate has 12 streets that link each section. On each street, there are seven housing units.

Our correspondent  gathered that at the time the quarters was built, a house was sold at the rate of N6,000, while some were given out at lesser rates.

“All these places you are seeing today were all farmlands of the people of Rafinkuka and Sheka. But they were later bought by the government and the farmers were compensated before government built the housing units,” the octogenarian said.

He added that as at the time the estate was built, no one wanted to buy a house, nor reside in the area because it was considered relatively far from the Kano city at the time.

“It was when people from the southern and eastern parts of the country came and were looking for places to reside that they started collecting and buying the houses. When we had a religious riot during Shekarau (2004), they left and our people started to occupy the place,” he added.

Daily Trust Saturday gathered that a single unit of a two-bedroom apartment in the area sold for over N10 million even three years ago. Almost all the houses have been bought by new owners. Most of them demolished the old buildings and erected modern structures.

Daily Trust Saturday also gathered that annual rents of structures of two-bedroom apartments that have not been rebuilt now goes for N300,000.  

When our correspondent visited the housing units at Sharada in Kano, he gathered that almost all the houses have been rebuilt into modern buildings.  

However, a few of the old structures still standing were said to have been bought by private individuals, most of which are currently under reconstruction.  

Shagari Quarters, Kano

Estate in shambles in Akure

The Shagari Village located along Ilesha-Owo Road in Akure has become a shadow of itself. A visit to the village which has mostly one bedroom and two bedroom apartments no longer has the aura of an estate that it was originally conceived to be.

Apart from some landlords who carry out renovation from time to time, some of the structures have been altered from the original design to meet modern standard.

One of the landladies, Mrs Victoria Bosah, who was a staffer of Federal Ministry of Labour, said she bought a one-bedroom apartment for N6,000.  She said the money was deducted on a monthly basis from her salary and she completed payment within two years.

Now a retiree, she said she added another one bedroom to the house to be able to accommodate her family.

Mrs Bosah said residents were faced with poor electricity supply and lack of potable water. She also called on the state government to assign relevant agencies to evacuate their waste regularly.

Another resident, Mrs Esther Salifu, a tenant, said she had lived in the estate for 15 years.

She added that life in the village was quiet and dull.  She called on government to provide borehole and medical centre for the residents.

…Wears new look in Lagos

In Lagos, the Shagari Estate initiated in 1982 is wearing a modern look. Most of the people who bought into the scheme then, it was learnt, have sold the old houses to new owners and relocated to other places.

When our correspondent visited the estate, only a few old buildings were still standing as new houses have replaced the old ones with entirely new occupants, landlords and in some cases tenants.

Also, it was observed that only few flats are still existing in the estate as many magnificent buildings like bungalows and mansions have replaced the old master plan of the estate.

Mr. Obafunsho Musbau, a resident of the estate said: “Almost every house you see here has a new owner.  Those who bought it then have resold it as the value of property here rose.”  

Findings by our correspondent showed that a two-bed room flat costs as much as N32m in the estate now as against N6,000 to N10,000 when the Federal Government sold the flats to beneficiaries in 1982.

Despite that, most of the buildings have been bought over.  But a  water tank that was built at that time is still supplying water to the people of the estate.

Maryam Ahmadu-Suka (Kaduna), Abubakar Akote (Minna), Salim Umar Ibrahim (Kano), Bola Ojuola (Akure) & Abdulateef Aliyu (Lagos)

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