It is no longer news that the Ogun State government under the administration of Governor Ibikunle Amosun has commenced the Homeowners’ Charter initiative to grant some property owners the required building approvals and Certificates of Occupancy (C-of- O) to establish their ownership of the property.
However, three years after, thousands of property owners, who subscribed to the programme, are yet to collect their titles, making many to believe that the initiative is a scam. New Telegraph gathered that over 200,000 residents subscribed to the scheme while less than 23,000 C-of-O have been issued to applicants three years after the programme took-off. Efforts to get comments from the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development in the state, Mrs. Ronke Sokefun, proved abortive as she neither picked her calls nor responding to text message sent to her.
Decrying government’s delay over the exercise, Chairman, Ogo-Irawo Area Community Development Centre (CDC) in Ogijo under Shagamu South Local Council Development Area, Mr. Azeez Balogun, said he had met other CDC chairmen in the locality over the issue, noting that their experiences were the same.
He hinted that they were planning to meet the state governor over the issue. Balogun said that residents had played their role by paying all monies requested in full for over two years, adding that none of them have collected their title document.
He said: “I and other CDC chairmen have met over the issue. Infact, we are tired of the whole delay; the programme is now like fraud to us. “We are planning to meet the governor in Abeokuta to find out what is happening. “Some of us have paid fully more than a year now, but have not received our C-of-O.
Some have made part payment, while some houses have been inspected more than two times. “As far as Ogijo is concerned, none of us have collected our title document.” Apart from huge bills issued to some landlords, he urged government to issue C-of-O to those who have paid fully under the home charter without further delay.
It would be recalled that Governor Amosun had directed the ministry in charge, last year, to treat the backlog of C-of-O on or before the end of last December. Contrary to allegation that the state had issued only 10,000 of the document to homeowners, government disclosed that they have issued about 26,000 to applicants.
Amosun also instructed the Ministry of Physical Planning to ensure it issues 3,000 copies to property owners every month starting from last July in order to meet up with the December deadline. Another property owner in Magboro, Mr. Ade Adegboye, described the housing initiative as “government propaganda,” noting that many people that have made full payments in his neighborhood have not been called for their certificates. According to him, many residents in the locality have lost confidence in the government’s housing programme.
He narrated how officials of government inspected his house twice and was later given a bill of N240,000, adding that he was asked to pay the money within two months. After complaining about his inability to pay the bill within the speculated time, Adegboye said that officials of the agency asked him to pay additional N5,000 so that they could extend the payment for one year.
Since then, he said it has been complaints galore among residents who paid their levies fully in the last one and half years. “People no longer believe what they see on television about government’s claims on number of people that have collected their C-of-O. It is just propaganda,” he said.
This newspaper was told that in Mowe and Ibafo axis, thousands of property owners have lost confidence in the programme. While some houses have been inspected, it was gathered that many have not been able to access their bills two years after inspection.
“For those that have been given their bills, many of them said the levies were outrageous compared to what the initiative promised at its commencement,” one of the residents said. According to one Mr. Adebayo, a resident of Ogijo community, many people could not pay the money due to cashcrunch and high bills.
It was gathered that about 300,000 property owners were targeted in Isheri, Arepo, Magboro, Ibafo, Asese, Mowe and Sango areas of the state, but 200,000 of them were approved by government. Each homeowner was required to pay N15, 000 to obtain the form. The final bill depended on the size of the property and the location. However, a four-bedroom bungalow on a single plot of land was to attract N95, 000, totaling N110, 000 instead of the normal price of N430,000 or more.
Ogun State government should not relent in its efforts to improve the state’s Internally Generated Revenue through the initiative. Therefore, it must remove all obstacles and fast-track the process of issuance of C-of-O to applicants.
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