The speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has bemoaned the abuse and disregard for the nation’s National Housing Funds Act and policy initiatives aimed at providing affordable housing for Nigerians by those tasked with the responsibility to implement them.
Dogara stated this at a two day public hearing on a topic on the need to ensure full compliance with the National Housing Fund (NHF)Act for effective housing delivery in Nigeria.
The Speaker who was imply represented by Hon. Binta Bello Mashi, the House Minority Whip, expressed concern that policies designed to provide adequate housing for Nigerians had not yielded positive results due to the violation of the Act by the stakeholders. In his opinion, there was a need to unravel why some stakeholders in the housing sector failed to comply with the NHF Act and the Federal Mortgage Bank Act.
According to him, the National Housing Fund was designed to assist the public servants and private sector employee while saving a percentage of their income.The government through mortgage bank institutions are expected to provide loans to real estate developers to build low-cost houses for Nigerians but unfortunately, both programmes were not yielding the desired result as houses are still not within the reach of Nigerians.
Also, Hon. Ahmed Baba Kaita, Chairman of the House Committee on Housing, noted in his address earlier that the public hearing was in fulfilment of the campaign promise of the Federal Government to create an additional middle class of at least four million new homeowners in 2019.
Mr Oluseyi Lufadeju, a trustee at Real Estate Development Association of Nigeria (REDAN) accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and some commercial banks of not contributing to the fund in violation of the law.He said that Section 5 of the NHF Act stipulates that “commercial or merchant banks shall invest in the fund 10 percent of its loans and advances at an interest rate of 1 percent above the interest rate payable on current account by banks. Also, every registered insurance company shall invest a minimum of 20 percent of its non-life funds and 40 percent of its life funds in real property development of which not less than 50 percent shall be paid into the fund through the Federal Mortgage Bank (FMB). Also he stated that Section 11 of the NHF Act Provides that the Central Bank of Nigeria shall collect from commercial and merchant banks at the end of every year and not later than one month thereafter, the percentage of their contribution to the fund and this non-compliance by the financial sector is hampering efforts to address housing deficit in the country and it should be made to be enforceable that anybody that fails to comply with the law should face stiffer penalties.
Lufadeju, however, noted that without full capitalisation, the FMB could not fulfil its obligation of providing affordable houses to Nigerians.
Mrs Hannatu Fika, the executive secretary of Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board, (FGSHLB), said the provision of incentives for the capital market to invest in property development was also crucial in proffering sustainable solutions to the housing deficit in the country.She urged the Federal Government to encourage the development of specific programmes that would ensure effective financing of housing development, in particular, low-cost housing for low-income earners.
Representing the Nigerian Law Reform Commission was Victor Uchendu, who called for severe punishment for violators of the NHF Act to serve as a deterrent to others.He said Sections 4,5 and 6 of the NHF Act must be carried into effect and all those in violation ought to be brought to book and answerable for their act of violation before a court of competent jurisdiction.