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FG Delivers On Its Housing Promise

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Eight months ago, during the launch of the Nigeria Mortgage Refinancing Company, NMRC, the President, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan promised to provide affordable housing to the millions of homeless Nigerians by the end of the second quarter of the year.

This pledge was made good last week when the government launched the first 10,000 mortgages for  the presidential Initiative on the delivery of affordable housing to Nigerians. Nigeria, according to the Quantity Surveyors Registration Board of Nigeria, QSRBN, requires a whopping N56 trillion to bridge the shortfall in the nation’s housing estimated to be around 17 million units.

The construction cost experts also posited that the country would need to beef up its current annual housing production from 100,000 units to 700,000 units if the Millennium Development Goal, MDG in the housing sector, would be attained. Speaking at the launch of the initiative in Abuja, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said the launch was part of the Federal Government’s efforts to fulfil its promise of providing affordable houses to Nigerians.

“The launch today is the actualisation of the promise to move on the road to affordable housing finance for Nigerians,’’ she said, adding that the launch was the kick-off of the first 10,000 mortgages to be provided by lenders.

We gathered that the scheme would be implemented in partnership with 15 pilot states and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. Nairobi-based Shelter Afrique and other development partners such as the World Bank, the African Development Bank, ADB and DFID are also lending their weight to the programme.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala outlined the advantages of the new initiative. According to her, the NMRC would give mortgage lending with access to more liquidity and long-term funds. The initiative would also address the limitation faced by banks to deliver mortgage services.

Noting that the chance of banks to deliver mortgage services is limited in view of the fact that about 80 per cent of their deposits are for 30 days only, the Minister declared, “this does not make for great strength or sustainability in providing resources for the housing sector. The NMRC provides greater access for financing of tenures from 15 to 20 years, instead of people buying houses and paying up in either, 12, 24 or 36 months, it is changed’’.

In her own remarks, the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Mrs Akon Eyakenyi, described the scheme as a mile stone in the housing sector. He explained that the programme was part of President Jonathan’s transformation agenda to evolve a plan for the timely delivery of affordable housing units to Nigerians.

Mrs Eyakenyi said the ministry has received support from some state governments through land documents for the housing units. She appealed to those who have not been part of the programme to do so.

The Managing Director of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, FMBN, Mr Gimba Ya’u Kumo, described the initiative as the beginning of a revolution in the housing sector in the country. FMBN, he said, has concluded arrangements to introduce a housing scheme for Nigerians in the Diaspora before the end of 2014.

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