The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, recently revealed that 33 Nigerians have benefited from the Federal Government’s housing programme under the mortgage refinancing scheme. The Minister also added that 9,667 people had also been cleared as eligible to benefit from the scheme.
The minister said this while presenting a speech at the Caritas Nigeria Forumon Tuesday in Abuja. In her words: “Sixty-six thousand people applied for the scheme; as at date, 23,000 have been pre-qualified and 9,700 have been cleared as being eligible to get it.
“And 33 people have actually had money being disbursed to them to own a home.
“This will continue to pick up and young people like you in the audience will own a home and each house built creates jobs.
“So not only are we trying to attack this issue of housing, but we are also creating jobs for Nigerians.
“This is the first administration that has made plans for young people to dream of owning their own homes even before they retire from service.”
Okonjo-Iweala said that before, Nigeria was doing about 20,000 to 50,000 mortgages a year “and for a country with our kind of size, it was not good enough”.
She added: “As we speak, we are trying to work with labour that has a big housing scheme ongoing – the NLC and TUC – to see how we can work with them to be able to afford houses. And then Rent-to-Own is another mechanism by the government to help people own their own houses. We are trying to work out down the line, so that if you cannot put a down payment, you can after years of renting, be able to own your own home. These are some of the things that this administration just launched a year ago. And for the future, this is what is being pushed so that we create more than 200,000 homes, 200,000 mortgages a year and begin to create the jobs associated with it.”
Okonjo-Iweala noted that the things mentioned were verifiable with numbers, adding that one of the things she wanted to encourage was evidence based discussion in the country.
She said: “The problem we have is that numbers are thrown out that have no basis and we must change this way of looking at things.”
Earlier, the Executive Secretary of Caritas Nigeria, Fr. Evaristus Bassey, said the economy remained fundamental to all dealings in the church.
According to Bassey, a well managed economy would translate into the well being of the people, while a poorly managed economy may mean poor social indices.
He said: “Nigerian economy, even with the drop in the oil prices, is projected to grow at a rate a little more than five per cent. We hear of growth as attested to by independent foreign bodies, yet we see suffering and cannot understand the contradiction. For the church, economic progress should not be measured solely by the Gross Domestic Product. To the contrary, the well-being of a nation should be measured by a series of indicators linked to social protection systems, including access to quality services, decent work among others.”
Bassey explained that the church had become the last hope for the common man and if the economy was sound, it would affect the people positively and reduce burden on the church.