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Apprehension Over Absence Of Special Intervention Fund, Affordable Housing

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CHIKA OKEKE writes on how absence of special intervention fund in the realty sector is militating against affordable shelter in the country.

The provision of affordable housing to Nigerians is the responsibility of government at all levels, though assisted by the private sector.

However, the absence of special intervention fund for the real estate sector has further worsened the presence of affordable housing especially for low income earners.

Though past governments have enacted policies to boost housing, but it failed to meet the housing needs of Nigerians due to absence of designs that captured diverse cultural delineation as was seen during Shehu Shagari administration in 1979.

The 2000 housing policy tagged, Housing for All by Year 2000 and 2012 national housing policy, aimed at providing affordable housing for Nigerians also failed.

With the election of APC- led administration in 2015, the federal government commenced the pilot phase of National Housing Programme (NHP) in 34 states including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in 2017, with the exemption of Lagos and Rivers states whose governors failed to donate land for the project.

Though the projects are yet to be commissioned but stakeholders have lamented that it cannot in anyway bridge the expected housing deficit as other pending issues such as access to land, absence of foreclosure law and among others crippling real estate development are yet to be addressed.

To this end, the realtors have pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) to urgently address the issue of special intervention fund, access to land and among others in his second tenure.

The managing director of FESADEB Communications Limited, Barr Festus Adebayo lamented that Nigeria remains one of the worst performing countries in the world where its citizens lacked adequate shelter.

He called on PMB to address access to land, which he said remained a major hindrance to housing in Nigeria.

Adebayo noted that the problem associated with Land Use Act has affected access to land, led to land scam and land grabbing.

He sought for the review of National Housing Fund (NHF) adding that the National Assembly had transmitted the NHF bill to the President for signing into law, having passed it on February 2019.

He said: “The President had rejected the bill for legal and economic reasons ranging from infractions on extant laws, duplication of responsibilities of existing agencies and financial constraint.’’

Adebayo who is also the convener of Abuja International Housing Show disclosed that President Buhari should initiate policies targeted at providing affordable housing for Nigerians.

He pointed out that PMB should concentrate on economic interventions that could reduce the cost of building materials and encourage local production of building materials.

Adebayo added, “The president should enable processes that will make it easier for cooperatives to pull their resources together and contribute to national funds on housing”.

He regretted that Nigeria has the biggest and most promising housing market in Sub-Saharan Africa, but ironically the least developed.

The MD wondered why the country is often fraught with challenges like substandard development, incompetency, building collapse, fraud and conflicts.

He sought for the establishment of supra- regulator that would checkmate individuals and organizations that frequently ventured into the sector without meeting any form of training and education. 

He said, “There is no entity saddled with the task of handling problems associated with developers and housing finance fraud that is rampant in the sector.

“Fraudulent developers and some unscrupulous mortgage banks have swindled a lot of people because the kind of regulation that should have been in place to check their excesses and nip it in the bud is absent. In addition, there is a need to introduce legal reforms that will enable timely resolution of housing and investment cases in the law courts and the legal reforms should also make it impossible for lawyers to abuse the system”, he added.

He suggested the unbundling of Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (PWH), saying that the meagre slowed down activities in the housing sector.

Adebayo hinted that federal government should recapitalize the Federal Mortgage Bank (FMBN) in order to increase its financial base.

In his contribution, the chairman of JEDO investment limited, Alhaji Aliyu Oroji Wamakko called on federal government to resolve the absence of special intervention fund in the housing sector, just like it was done in the agriculture sector.

Wamakko believed that the failure of government to provide intervention fund is the reason for high interest rate and high cost of houses in the built sector.

He said that with lower interest rate and special intervention fund for housing development, that investors would be able to provide houses at a very cheaper price.

Wamakko who is also the vice president, Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN) requested that federal government should subsidise the prices of its houses for low income earners.

He disclosed that REDAN has always advocated for the enactment of closure to safeguard realty investment in case of default by off-takers.

Another stakeholder who spoke on condition of anonymous suggested that to address Nigeria’s housing problems that there should be consolidated efforts to diversify Nigeria’s economy which is largely dependent on crude export.

He pointed out that areas like agriculture, education and housing have been identified as possible ways to expand government’s resources through massive investment.

The expert lamented that housing development cannot be possible in an environment smeared by violence, vandalism and terrorism.

While requesting for active engagement of stakeholders in resolving the housing deficit, she pointed out that there is a need for the introduction of special intervention fund in the sector as was done in the agriculture sector.

Also, the executive director of Mobilisation, FESADEB communications limited, Flora Anne disclosed that the interest rates, both for public and private mortgage institutions should be affordable and pegged at single digit rate.

She said, “While public buildings like the federal secretariats in Zamfara, Bayelsa, Nasarawa and Ekiti and the Zik Mausoleum in Onitsha has been built, and the pilot phase of NHP has kicked off, leading to housing construction in the 34 states where government had received land but there is still a lot more to be done in order to reduce Nigeria’s deficit”.

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