Shelter Rights Initiatives, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), has appealed to the Federal Government to replicate its laudable agricultural sector programmes in the housing sector to solve housing deficit.
The President of the NGO, Mr Festus Adebayo made the call in Abuja on Saturday. The official said that the Federal Government’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) for an agricultural loan should be replicated in the housing sector.
The Anchor Borrowers’ Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was introduced to assist local rice farmers with loans to boost local production.
He recalled that the Federal Government had banned the importation of rice to protect local rice farmers, promote local rice patronage and consumption in the country.
Adebayo said the Federal Government had shown interest in promoting the agricultural sector and by this initiative.
“It has given a directive to CBN that every loan that has to do with agriculture and farming should be at one digit interest rate.”
“Such laudable programme, directives and other initiatives of the government in the agricultural sector are needed in the housing and construction sector to expedite development.
“We strongly feel that the government should replicate the same in housing sector by directing every bank loan that has to do with the housing to be at one digit interest rate of nine percent.
“While that of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) should remain at six percent interest rate,’’ the official said.
Adebayo said there were a lot of unused funds, especially the pension funds and unclaimed dividends in the country that could also be diverted to enhance the housing sector.
“There is a lot of stolen money at the banks but due to the introduction of Biometric Verification Number, nobody can come around and claim it.”
“Those idle funds that are not used could be diverted to the housing sector to be utilised for a period of time.’’
He, however, called for an effective mortgage system to provide enabling an environment for loan seekers in order to ease the challenges in the sector.
Adebayo also suggested that the government should as well replicate its directive of stopping the importation of rice by banning the importation of building materials.
“The government should do everything possible to encourage the patronage of locally building materials by banning the importation of foreign building materials into the country.
“Banning the importation of building materials will resuscitate defunct indigenous factories in the country, thereby increasing economic growth.”
“On the other hand, it will create a lot of employment, especially for the youths.”
“We have the potential, we have all the opportunity but the government must have the political will to drive the sector.”
“A country’s housing sector that depends on imported building materials cannot produce an affordable housing,’’ he said.
The Shelter Rights Initiative focuses on affordable housing advocacy and equal rights to deepen access to housing provision.