Home Feature ‘We help even okada rider access housing’

‘We help even okada rider access housing’

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Mr Emmanuel Atama is Executive Secretary/CEO of National Cooperative Financing Agency of Nigeria (CFAN), the apex institution for all cooperative societies in Nigeria, concerned about housing finance. Atama spoke with Viewpoint Housing News in Abuja giving what the agency is doing to help those in the informal sector to access housing.

Viewpoint: What do you do as a housing finance organization?

Atama: We have a programme called Cooperative Inclusive Strategy which access to housing finance is a critical issue. Because being you a developer or an off-taker of houses, you still need to have access to finance to either develop or to off take.

So National Cooperative Financing Agency of Nigeria is working with various stakeholders to ensure that we provide affordable housing for our members nationwide.

Viewpoint: How many have you provided affordable houses to?

Atama: We’re not in the business of producing houses. What we do is we facilitate the process that enables them to own houses of their own. Based on cooperative structure, every state takes custody of its housing statistics. What we do at the national level basically is to provide coordination to enable them access housing.

In the interim, there are pockets of housing here and there developed by cooperatives. Right now, we just set up our database to make sure that we have this relevant information including housing so that we know how to go about.

This point in time, it will not be convenient to give you a particular figure but we’ve put machinery in place to ensure that the Cooperative Inclusive Strategy will provide information about our access to finance, healthcare, pension and housing. We’ve even included food under the unified cooperative platform of which we have over 800 cooperatives already on board nationwide.

I believe that around this time next year, we should be able to come up with statistics that will assist policy makers and development partners to see the right intervention they can bring on board.

Mr Emmanuel Atama is Executive Secretary/CEO of National Cooperative Financing Agency of Nigeria

Viewpoint: When did this partnering of government agencies and cooperative societies on housing begin?

Atama: We can’t say precisely this is when it started. But the issue is cooperative is a global thing and Nigeria is the vice president of the International Cooperative Alliance in charge of Africa. What we do in cooperative particularly those in government ministries and departments, efforts are in place to provide housing particularly in Abuja where housing is a very big challenge considering the cost of rent.

I could recall that in 2010 – that was when the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria launched the cooperative housing scheme. Incidentally, we were holding the first Abuja Cooperative Housing Summit. They came around to introduce the scheme. And since then, we have been working with them to see how we can use the system to support our people because majority of our people are contributing to the National Housing Fund but that doesn’t mean that the cooperatives are entirely relying on the government mortgage system to get things done. We’re using that like a type of intervention to assist what we’re doing on our own.

Basically, it was in 2010 when the initiative came up through the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria that we saw government partnering with cooperatives.

They’re not only looking at government department cooperatives. They’re also looking at the informal sector because be it pension, insurance, healthcare, the attention now is on the informal sector because majority of our people are there.

And the current financial drive of the Central Bank also takes into cognizance, creating assets, bringing on board the excluded. So we’re looking at housing from the perspective of inclusivity to be able to provide affordable housing through the cooperative instrumentality.

Viewpoint: How do you bring in the informal sector?

Atama: The problem we have in this country today is that when you talk about workers, people always look toward established organizations. But majority of the people are in the informal sector. That is the reason why when people talk about unemployment, they quote figures so bogus because they have no regard for those who are in the informal sector.

Even the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, when we started talking with them, we discovered that those in the informal sector, particularly those self-employed that are not established as a company…they can contribute better than those working with government because there, their income isn’t steady. Sometimes it shoots up, sometimes down but they contribute a lot.

Take example from the okada man [commercial motorcyclist], daily, the okada man contributes money to his association. If you want to collect such money, you can collect it through that system and get them access to housing.

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