Home Editorial Dangiwa should keep the standards

Dangiwa should keep the standards

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Management of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) has taken a couple of steps that appear to have changed the course of the journey toward affordable housing delivery in Nigeria. On Wednesday 10 October, 2018, the first phase of the bank’s National Affordable Housing Delivery Programme was launched in a place called  Kwandare, Lafia Local Governmennt Area, Nasarawa State.

Thereafter, the foundation laying stone for the programme was taken to all geo-political zones of Nigeria. The scheme was launched in Kogi State on October 11, Enugu State October 15, Abia State October 16, and Akwa Ibom State October 18. Each geo-political zone will get 200 housing units, making a total of 1,400 housing units in the first phase of the programme.

If successfully delivered, each state will get 100 housing units — in a mix of three, two and one-bedroom semi-detached bungalows and blocks of flats. The houses are adjustable to suit location peculiarities. This will therefore, become the country’s template for affordable housing.

Once the houses are completed, FMBN will provide mortgage loans for as long as 30 years through selected Primary Mortgage Banks (PMBs) to workers who contribute to the National Housing Fund (NHF).

As it is designed for workers, cost of the houses is kept low. The designs and bills of quantities are directly commissioned by FMBN and passed to developers as template to ensure that costs are between N3.1 million and N8.3 million.

The project financed by FMBN is a joint initiative with the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigeria Employer’s Consultative Association (NECA). The Managing Director of FMBN, Mr Ahmed Dangiwa has described the project as unique because it involves all labour stakeholders in all FMBN’s collaborations for affordable housing.

In each state that the project was launched, there was fanfare. People expressed delight saying the initiative will do a lot of good to beneficiaries and the local communities as a whole.

Apart from the new housing programme, management of FMBN has, since 2017 taken a couple of initiatives toward improving housing provision in Nigeria. The introduction of zero equity on loans to Nigerian workers is one initiative the bank has implemented as condition for accessing loans from NHF. Before now, many workers could scarcely access contributions they made due to demand for equity which was far above their capabilities.

FMBN is not looking in the direction of only building houses. Many workers are living in dilapidated structures which need uplift. For this reason, the bank has advanced the sum of N255.7 million to 294 NHF contributors under the FMBN Home Renovation Loan.

Since coming into office in April 2017, Dangiwa has sustained the campaign and struggle for recapitalization of FMBN from mere N5 billion to N500 billion to give the bank impetus to do what it was set up to do. Viewpoint Housing News would therefore, reiterate this call on the federal government to put in more funds for the bank’s recapitalization. It is a way of helping the housing sector. After all, this is not a funny thing to do. Sectors like aviation, agriculture, education, health have enjoyed government’s intervention funds at different times. Housing sector should not be an exception.

FMBN has also sought the enactment of a law establishing the Institute of Mortgage Brokers and Lenders of Nigeria (IMBLN) for better regulation of the industry to promote sustainable policy framework. This when enacted will eliminate fraudsters and quacks in the sector. Dangiwa should pursue this to logical conclusion.

The bank has embarked on partnership and collaboration with both public and private organisations for affordable housing delivery. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), Mortgage Banking Association of Nigeria (MBAN), Nigeria Mortgage Refinancing Company (NMRC) etc. This collaborations have started yielding fruits as seen in the National Affordable Housing Delivery Programme.

In line with the current administration’s resolve to enthrone probity in public affairs, the bank has taken steps to engender accountability. Crucial steps are taken to ensure that outstanding financial statements are rendered by end of this year. The bank is about reconciling backlog of audited financial accounts. Before now, there was no submission of the bank’s audited account since 2013. A task force has been constituted in this regard. Stakeholders are waiting anxiously to see the work of the task force.

Management, in collaboration with the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP) has invited loan takers from FMBN to come clear their records. Names of over 200 companies were published in national newspapers on Sept. 13. We call on management to diligently and speedily accomplish this task so we can see who took estate development loans but failed to what was expected. This is important because we want only developers who are genuinely committed to doing housing to access the bank’s Estate Development Loans (EDLs). We hereby commend the bank’s effort toward automating loan repayment debits from customers’ bank accounts. This will reduce the rate of loan defaults.

Very important is the bank’s plan to enhance accountability in NHF management with SMS and email alerts. Like bank messages are sent on transactions on customer account, so also will transactions on NHF accounts get alerts. Through this, the bank could be said to be on the path to employing best practices.

Housing is a major need that must be met. Governments at all levels and individuals must work toward making those working in the housing sector to succeed. FMBN, incorporated in 1956, is the sole government institution saddled with the task of providing mortgage finance to Nigerians through NHF. All eyes are on it. The apex mortgage bank must carry out this task to its best. The dream of Shelter for All can hardly come true if management of top housing organisations like FMBN, Federal Ministry of Housing and housing development organisations like REDAN and professionals fail. The standards set by Dangiwa-led management at FMBN must be sustained.

 

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