Uche Usim, Abuja
Minister of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed on Monday inaugurated the board of Family Homes Funds (FHF), with a charge on the members to ensure they deliver on their mandate by providing affordable homes for 500,000 low income Nigerians and the creation of 1.5 million jobs.
Speaking at the event, the Minister said the constitution of the board was in full realization of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s goal of bridging the housing needs gap with the aim of promptly addressing the numerous demands for government interventions in the housing sector.
However, to ensure the gigantic project is not starved of financing, the Minister authorized the board and management of the establishment to pool funds from third party institutions like development finance institutions and the capital market.
Ahmed, who did not disclose how much the government was committing to the project, ordered the board and management to establish top corporate governance culture and a carefully designed internal control mechanisms
She said: “The present administration is committed to the implementation of this Housing Policy through the provision of enough funds for its sustainability in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework for the next five years. It is important to bear in mind that one of this administration’s 11 priority areas is Improve access to mass housing and consumer credit to enhance financial inclusion. Thus, the responsibility that will now lie on your shoulders is huge.
“Government expects results, measurable ones at that. Firstly, you are expected to establish top corporate governance culture and a carefully designed internal control mechanisms. “The Family Homes Fund will receive significant amounts of public money, in addition to other capital from development finance institutions and the capital market. It must, therefore, be a reliable steward of resources on your part.
“Secondly, we expect you to be creative, bold and ambitious. The housing programme envisaged under the Family Homes Scheme is the largest in the history of our nation and if successfully delivered, it has the potential, not to change lives but also to boost Nigeria’s economy. It will therefore serve as a catalyst to attract investors, provide land ownership to citizens at a lower rate and mobilise funds through mortgage finance. The Poor delivery of affordable housing over the last 30 years is, in part, attributable to lack of cooperation among various agencies tasked with the provision of housing. I therefore, encourage you to seek and build partnerships, and even collaboration. It is quite unlikely that the Fund will achieve the expectations of Mr. President, without partnering the others.
“The Federal Government expects a financially sustainable Fund. Whilst the initial capital commitment from Government will be useful, the expectation is that the company will raise significant third-party capital to finance the programme. On the part of government, I assure you of full support. Earlier, the Permanent Secretary Special Duties in the Ministry of Finance Dr. Muhammed Dikwa represented by Mr. Denis Chukwu said the inauguration of the board of the FamilyHomes Fund will help bridge the housing needs in Nigeria.
The Homes Fund he said was established in 2016 to provide affordable houses for 500,000. He disclosed that “on Friday, the fund commissioned an estate of housing 650 units at Issele Azagba in delta state.
Chairman of the board and former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr. Suleiman Barau pledged the commitment of the board and management of the Fund to provide leadership given the quality of expertise at the disposal of the team.
In a related development, the Minister said preparations on the forthcoming 25th National Economic Summit slated for October has reached an advanced stage.
“The theme of the Summit, is “Nigeria 2050: Shifting Gears”. Shifting Gears emphasize the imperatives for the country to move to a more robust competitive private sector economy while discussing the implication of the projected population of the country hitting over 400 million by 2050 with 65% of the population under the age of 35.
“This figure we know will put an unimaginable pressure on our educational institutions, structures, resources and manpower. In this regard, it is only a competitive private sector led economy that will drive this process and ensure economic prosperity all for Nigerians.
“To ensure a competitive economy, we must have stable macroeconomic conditions and business climate that will keep transaction costs low, thereby encouraging savings, investment and job creation. Nigeria’s economic prosperity depends on the productivity of our human and natural resources.
“To achieve these we need; a modern and well-regulated financial sector that turns savings into productive investments; ability to advance in research, development and technology; investment in hard and soft infrastructure as well as sustained encouragement of entrepreneurship and innovation; economic activity in manufacturing, services, agriculture and natural resources that are viable and plugged into global value chains; introduction of legislations and policies that provide a sustainable foundation for the continuous development of human resources, science and technology, research and development, innovation and infrastructure and; identification of and focus on specific industries (and industry segments) that Nigeria has or can build sustainable competitive advantage”, she explained. Ahmed said this year’s summit would be setting a new agenda for Nigeria to key into the 4th Industrial Revolution “Discussions around the Sub-themes will be driven by six identified critical sectors of the economy which are Agriculture, Manufacturing, ICT, Financial Services, Creative Industry and the Extractive Industry. 12 accelerators and Indicators have also been identified for discussion as central to the growth of competitive industries and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which ensures a prosperous future.
“The Summit will further seek to: underscore the critical enablers of the private sector led economy that the country needs; develop and deploy human capital to achieve higher productivity; discuss policy framework that is required to guarantee a globally competitive economy that is inclusive; strategize on how to mobilize and attract needed investments; map out possible scenarios on the path to the future we envision and; highlight the role of state governments in the competitiveness and growth agenda”.