In this interview, the Managing Director of the Federal Housing Authority, Prof Mohammed Al-amin talks to ANDREW ESSIEN about Federal Housing Authority’s mandate, where it was and how it has evolved. Read below:
Can you tell us the mandate of the Federal Housing Authority?
The Federal Housing Authority was established some 40 years ago and the initial mandate was for an agency that would cater for houses for civil servants but later on the scope of the mandate was expanded to include all Nigerians. By 1992 after the review of the Federal Housing Policy, it was expanded again to cover not only housing for Nigerians alone but to also go into advising government on housing policy, designing projects as well as issues bordering on infrastructural development of the neighborhoods around the country.
In essence, the mandate is to provide houses across all sectors of Nigeria, it also delves into the provision of utilities and services in residential areas as well as advising government on areas that will produce better shelter and accommodation for all Nigerians. So in a nutshell, the FHA is mandated to cater for the housing provision of all Nigerians.
An online media quoted you to have said that the building of social housing is the sole responsibility of the Federal Mortgage Bank or the Ministry of Lands and Housing. Is this your position?
I never mentioned that the building of social housing was the sole responsibility of the Federal Mortgage Bank. Probably what I said was that the sole responsibility of the Federal Mortgage Bank is housing finance while the actual construction of houses, allocation of Lands and maintenance of facilities, utilities and services in the neighborhood is the sole responsibility of the Federal Housing Authority who in addition, is responsible for social housing in the country and that is why about 10 years back, a sole department for social and cooperative housing was created under this agency and is still championing it.
The FHA has been in existence for quite some time now but there is a large outcry by Nigerians that there is a great deficit of houses as only a small percentage own homes. What is responsible for this?
The story is too long but to cut it short, there was no prevailing favourable environment for housing construction and supply prior to the 1992 housing policy. As I told you earlier on, the authority was created at that time to cater for a little segment of the Nigerian society which were the civil servants of the Federal government and not even the states or local governments in fact. So, the initial policy was not wide enough in terms of scope to accommodate Nigerians.Secondly, the various provisions in the 1978 Land Use Act also contributed to the slow pace with which houses are being supplied to Nigerians.
Thirdly, there had not been hitherto the 2012 national housing policy, any attempt to make a robust housing finance system. So, these are some of the culminating factors that brought about that deficit that is probably quoted at 17 million housing units or so.
What the government did was to liberalise finance under the 2012 national housing policy, secondly it expanded the scope of the FHA to cover the staff of the Federal government and or providing housing under certain programmes, to go into commercial social housing for those who are interested in high-brow houses and can afford it, will have houses under the commercial housing scheme while for other Nigerians that are less privileged, another housing scheme is being embarked upon. Under the social housing scheme, there is the contribution of the Federal, states and local governments into it particularly in the provision of infrastructure as well as the premium of land and the cost of the house which is shouldered by the interested Nigerian. That actually made the production of houses lesser in terms of cost and faster in terms of delivery. By God’s grace, in a few years to come, we would see this wide gap of housing supply and demand closed so that Nigerians can actually benefit from it.
Read full interview here