Stories by Maduka Nweke
Tackling housing deficit in Nigeria remained a daunting task successive governments had not been able to overcome. Although much lip service has been paid to the problem, not much has been done as the deficit increases by two million year on year. This is also true that as nothing tangible has been done to stall the increasing housing deficit in the country. Although government established the Nigerian Mortgage Refinancing Company (NMRC) to fight the scourge, little is being reaped therefrom.
The introduction of NMRC is expected to help reduce the cost of mortgage loan by improving market efficiency, lowering cost of funds and allowing for longer repayment tenor period by financial institutions. NMRC as an intervention medium is expected to encourage access to mortgage loans from financial institutions currently at 2.5 per cent above the Federal Government borrowing benchmark.
However, with the full operation of NMRC, a good building block is expected to be put in place for mortgage finance institutions to meet Nigeria’s current housing deficit in concert with the responsible behaviour of other agencies/tiers of government and the private sector.
The land registries, land courts, representing one such agencies of government, have to provide quick and easy access to certificates of occupancy, other land titles and fair justice. Macro policy and fiscal discipline must be maintained to achieve acceptable inflation rates and enable refinancing cost to fall to single digit. State governments need to provide an enabling environment by digitising land registries and simplifying the process of access to and transfer of land title.
This is achievable but not guaranteed without the full buy-in of all key players. Malaysia has its NMRC, which is called Cagamas, currently supporting the entire Malaysian housing market. Cagamas is today the Malaysian success story, which Nigeria should replicate with its NMRC.
In a way that shows efforts of NMRC in the country, the company is set to host the 32nd edition of African Union for Housing Finance (AUHF) Conference and Annual General Meeting from September 14 – 16, 2016 in Abuja with the theme, “Housing, an African Growth Agenda.”
Speaking with newsmen in Lagos, Executive Director, NMRC, Dr. Chika Akporji, said AUHF is a member-based organisation of housing finance experts under the framework of the African Union coming together to deliberate on issues of housing as a key sector in any national economy; deliberate on how housing sector is performing in their economies; how to unlock the potentialities of the sector so that it can contribute more meaningfully to job creation.
According to her, the keynote speaker will be Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who will use the opportunity of the conference to present his blueprint for the housing sector in Nigeria, not only to a national audience but also to an international audience.
She said: “NMRC is really honoured to have been selected to host this year’s conference/AGM as we are relatively a young organisation. The conference will look at how housing is tied to the nexus between the housing sector and national economic growth to Nigeria and the whole of Africa. So we are expecting experts in housing finance from across the continent to deliver speeches.”
On the potential benefits for Nigeria, Akporji said, “it is also an opportunity for various stakeholders within the Nigerian economy to present the various projects they are working on. It is an opportunity for key stakeholders to present what they are doing, seek feedback and input, then be able to better plan for execution of various housing programmes they have.
“This Nigerian initiative is for the benefit of all Nigerians in the long term and beginning from the first phase of operations, average Nigerians with sustainable and verifiable level of income can access mortgage loans easier and faster from participating mortgage lenders. These institutions will be better equipped to provide long term loans having refinanced from NMRC. It will enable developers to build homes faster and allow these homes to be purchased at an affordable cost, and hence save more household disposable income for other investments.
“Lower income households will benefit from direct jobs created by the construction of new housing units and services required to build a home and deliver it to the final customer.
“We expect to see an estimated 490,000 additional sustainable jobs over the next coming years. The wages earned by workers and profits earned by businesses during the construction period are spent on other local goods and services. This generates additional income for local people, which is spent on still more local goods and services, and so on. This continuing recycling of income back into the community is a multiplier effect of the successful implementation of the project,” she noted.
A report released by the Ministry of Finance said the new mortgage company would enhance the provision of more houses at affordable prices nationwide, adding that NMRC would help reinvigorate the housing and construction sector. “NMRC will help increase liquidity in the housing sector, provide secondary market for mortgages and thereby increase the number of people able to purchase or build homes at an affordable price in the country,” it said.
The report further stated that 14 pilot states were earmarked for the programme, adding that governors of the states had agreed to provide and fast-track land titles, foreclosure arrangements and service plots. The company, the report stated, is also expected to help create more than 200,000 mortgages in the next five years at affordable interest rates.
“To provide for those at the lower end of the economic ladder, there will be an expansion of mass housing schemes through a restructured Federal Mortgage Bank and other institutions to provide rent-to-own and lease-to-own options,” it said.
The Ministry said the idea would help many Nigerian families to own a home. It explained that the idea would create additional jobs for architects, masons, electricians, plumbers, painters and interior decorators, among others. Fourteen states of the country have expressed support towards implementation of the housing finance programme. The pilot states are Abia, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Enugu, Ekiti, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano and Kwara.
NIA Lagos chapter inaugurates new executives
The Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Lagos State chapter, recently inaugurated its new Executive Council to steer the affairs of the chapter for the next two years, after the election that was held in July at the Freedom Park, Lagos.
The General Secretary of NIA, Abimbola Ajayi, who administered the oath of office on behalf of the President, Tonye Braide, urged the members to live up to the vision of the chapter in terms of ethical standards.
Among those elected are Fitzgerald Umah, Chairman; Adebayo Ogunmefun, Vice Chairman; Samson Akinyosoye, General Secretary; Bolanle Olukareh, Treasurer; Abiodun Fatuyi, Public Relations Officer, and Adebowale Fafore, Social Welfare Officer.
In his inaugural speech, the newly elected Chairman stated that the new executives have already hit the ground running with series of visits and activities that will benefit the profession in Lagos State in the long run.
He said architecture has moved beyond designing sophisticated buildings to becoming a means of solving socio-cultural problems, eradicating poverty and creating a liveable community, adding that the chapter was fully ready to work with the state government to achieve this.
He enjoined all architects in all sectors of the profession in Lagos to join hands with the new executives to move the profession forward and create a more robust relationship with other allied professionals in order to enhance the standard of the construction industry in Lagos.
Umah promised to work on student mentorship for architectural schools in Lagos thereby tackling quackery from the roots.
Lagos inaugurates committee to enforce environmental laws
A special committee to enforce environmental sanitation and town planning laws as well as restore the original master plan of Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Lekki has been inaugurated by the Lagos State government.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, while inaugurating the committee, said it would begin work after the holidays. Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and Chairman of the committee, Mr. Tunji Bello, who spoke to journalists earlier, said this follows the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum issued to all owners of illegal structures, and abandoned buildings now harbouring prostitutes and hoodlums, shanties, street hawkers and those who have converted walkways into trading points and food courts.
The ultimatum, which has already expired was for owners of such illegal structures to dismantle them voluntarily. Bello said the committee decided to embark on sensitisation campaign to give owners of such structures enough time to willingly pull down their buildings before government takes action on them.
He explained that necessary modalities have been put in place to ensure that the original master plan of the areas as envisioned by the founding fathers was maintained.
According to him, “the committee is poised to discharge responsibilities vested on it, which include immediate implementation of approved action plan and execution of the clean-up exercise; development of strategies for preventing re-occurrences as well as other recommendations deemed necessary to sustain environmental renewal of the areas.”
He also pointed out that the Ambode-led administration remains committed to bring environmental sanity back to every part of the state. “Cases of abandoned properties have become very rampant with miscreants and criminal elements taking over these properties as their base to cause havoc in the state,” he added.
UK govt to invest in Mile 12 market
By Steve Agbota
The United Kingdom has concluded plans to invest in the Lagos Mile 12 market to enable it meet international standards. The Permanent Secretary of the United Kingdom under the Department for International Development (DFID), James Wharton, said that UK spends £500 million annually on developmental projects in Nigeria.
Wharton who disclosed this recently during his official visit to the Mile 12 market in Lagos, said that the visit was to look out for areas of possible investment in the market.According to him, the investment was in line with the continued support to Nigeria by the foreign government.
He added that the market offered lots of investment potential, but that a lot more work needed to be done to ensure it delivered what the people expect from it.
He said that the UK government would play significant role to support the market men and women to add value to the produce.
However, he identified lack of infrastructural development including flooring of the market as major areas of urgent attention, as the quality of packaging was yet to meet international standard.
Said he: “It is really an impressive market where so many people are producing so much trade. However I think there are quite a number of things that can be done to improve the market.
A lot more needed to done by the market management. The bilateral relationship between the two nations is clearly for strong investment ventures in Nigeria.””The UK government budgets for aids and development in Nigeria and other West African countries annually however it would be sure on the areas to spend the money, we are helping people in the way they expect, we are supporting development in the way we intend to”, he said.”The purpose of the visit was to ensure and understand what the needs are. We are here to learn some of the opportunities in this market, and it is hopeful that the UK government will assist in this area.”Chairman, Mile 12 Market Management Committee and Chairman Perishable Food Stuff Market Association, Haruna Muhammed said the investment opportunity by the UK would bring a lot of relief to the market, lamenting that the market had never benefited from government assistance since its existence.Muhammed admitted: “there was investment need in the market, over 40 years of its existence there had never been any government assistance, we need assistance from both the government and the World Bank. The little improvement you see in the market is the efforts of the present management.”He nevertheless dismissed the issue of relocating the market, saying the management is in cordial relationship with the Lagos State government.