By Folasade Folarin
Nigeria is to invest N500 billion to bridge housing deficit through Family Homes Fund (FHF) in the next five years.
Mr Adeyemi Dipeolu, the Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters said on the sideline of the second Nigeria Housing Finance Conference in Abuja on Tuesday.
The conference was organised by the Nigeria Integrated Social Housing (NISH).
The conference has as its theme: “Innovative Financing of Affordable Housing’ with the sub-theme “Delivering Affordable Housing through Cooperatives’’.
Dipeolu, represented by Ms Imeh Okon, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Infrastructure, said that FHF would be powered by the government but with private sector participation.
“Government is giving FHF N100 billion yearly for the next five years with anticipation that it is going to leverage one trillion naira of private resources.
“This money is essentially to help build social and affordable housing for Nigerians and in this situation, if you earn N30,000 you can be able to buy houses that will be under the FHF.”
He added that presently, some houses had been completed in Nassarawa state and about 3,000 to 6,000 were under construction across Nigeria.
.According to Dipeolu, the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has also completed more than 2,000 houses of 72 units across Nigeria under the affordability index with the hope that Nigerians will be able to access them.
On the issue of high mortgage, he said that efforts were on going to ensure cheaper mortgages, adding that if the houses were there and the mortgages were not available, it would be a bit of a challenge for Nigerians to access the houses.
Dipeolu also said that the issue of hidden charges in mortgage acquisition was also being addressed.
“Most of the mortgages that are being issued right now through the Primary Mortgage Banks (PMBs) to my understanding make these charges to cover their own administrative costs.
“We have been told about these hidden charges and presently, we are working with the PMBs to see how we can reduce them to the barest minimum so that it will not impact on what the beneficiary has to pay in the long run.”
In his keynote, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, said that the challenges inhibiting delivery of affordable housing in Nigeria include land, technology, expert knowledge and skilled manpower, building materials, infrastructure and finance.
Represented by Amb. Sani Bala, he said that other issues include insurance of mortgages and properties, estate maintenance and management, legal framework like foreclosure laws and Affordable Housing Bill.
Gambari, Nigeria’s former UN Permanent Representative and Under Secretary-General, added that the solution to land and land titles issues lay with the Federal and State Governments.
“It is important to note that affordable housing cannot be achieved using land purchased at market prices.
“It is also important to note that for affordable housing to succeed, governments must provide easy access to land and land titles at little or no cost.”
According to him, building materials are also critical to developing affordable housing.
Gambari also said that policies must be geared toward encouraging new entrants into building materials industry.
“Bulk discounts should also be offered by manufacturers, especially for affordable housing projects.
“Manufacturers of building materials, especially the socially responsible ones should make it a policy or strategy to moderate prices and offer special discounts and terms for housing cooperative societies for affordable housing projects.
“Government should also consider 100 per cent waivers or lowering of import duties on imported building materials, specifically tied to the affordable housing project after the marshal plan being proposed is finally approved.”
The Managing Director, NISH, Mr Yemi Adelakun, said that one of the major problems in bridging the housing deficit was that the houses available had not been built to the needs and the affordability of the people.
According to him, not giving houses to those who are in need of them must be addressed squarely.
“One way of doing this is to make sure that those houses are given to first home buyers and not those who are going to resell.
“In other countries what they do is that you buy it and you cannot sell it until after 10 years and that way you ensure that the houses actually go to the people that need them.”
On the issue of pension contributors accessing their funds for housing, he said that a guideline had been developed to ensure that, but however, said that for almost two years it had not been implemented because there was no board in place.
He, however, said that he was certain that it would soon be implemented.
Adelakun, a retired Federal Permanent Secretary and Former Chairman, Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) Programme, said the event was aimed at proffering solutions that would enhance value for government expenditure on housing.
He also said that it would ensure realisation of the dreams of low and medium income earners in the formal and informal sectors.
According to him, the focus is on cooperatives because it will help to develop social capital.
“Everyone in the cooperative will be contributing and properties will be developed at not-for-profit basis.
“We have engaged not-for-profit developers and by the time you remove the 30 per cent profit margin on housing, you can bring down the cost and get to the affordability.”
FISH was designed to provide affordable housing for serving federal civil servants, while NISH is for all Nigerians from both the formal and informal sector.