Not impressed by low activities in their sector in the last four years, stakeholders are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to seize the opportunity of his second term to address some of the critical challenges confronting the housing sector. Dayo Ayeyemi reports
Nigeria is blessed with abundance of natural and human resources; but these have not really been transformed to economic prosperity to majority of citizens as many of lived on less than one dollar per day.
Besides, homeownership among low and no -income citizens was nothing but a mirage as many lived in the open, squalour and environmentally unhealthy settlements.
According to report, Nigeria remains one of the worst performing countries in the world in terms of ratio of citizens who are without housing.
United Nations (UN) estimated that Nigeria has over 17 millions housing deficit and would require to construct one million units every year in the next 20 years to bridge the deficit.
Despite many proposed reforms and policies papers presented by all stakeholders to turn the tide, lip-service and lack of political will to activate those policies and do the needful by successive governments have widened accommodation gap among Nigerians.
Also, while there have been shortage supply of low income houses, vacant properties specifically targeted at the rich adorned the cities of Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt.
Almost 59 years of nationhood, identified factors such as lack of access to cheap and buildable land, high cost of securing and registering land title; inadequate access to finance, slow administrative procedures, high cost of building materials and undeveloped mortgage market are still common challenges to affordable housing provisions.
Worried by these challenges denying Nigerians opportunities to have easy access to cheap and quality accommodation, affordable housing stakeholders have taken it upon themselves to call the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari to some of key issues to be addressed in the sector and economy.
Presenting these issues as agenda for President Buhari, Lead Promoters of Abuja Housing Show and Managing Director of Fesadeb Communications. Mr. Festus Adebayo, said that the issues bordered on land, National Housing Fund (NHF), housing affordability, regulations economic and political stability, mortgage and unbundling of the Ministry of Power Work and Housing among others.
Land Use Act
Urging the President to consider proper reforms of land administration, Adebayo stated that issue of land remained a major hindrance to housing in Nigeria.
He noted that the problems of Land Use Act has affected access to land, contributing to increased in land scams and land grabbing by few but strong personalities.
He said that many housing stakeholders have continued to complain about several problems with the Act and how it affected access to land for private individuals and developers.
Calling on the Federal Government to urgently look into the problems of Land Use Act, he said: “Some of the defects in the Act were the lack of uniformity for the laws which could help to govern the ownership of the lands; the uncontrolled speculation over urban lands; the issue of accessing lands for all Nigerians equally.
President, African Regions, International Real Estate Federation(FIABCI), Mr. Chudi Ubosi,said that abrogation of Land Use Act was not negotiable, pointing out that the land law has failed the objectives it was set out achieve.
According to him, the law has made land ownership and title’s transfer tougher, adding that the land law was fettered with institutional failure, dearth of political will and inherent defects.
Chairman, Presidential Technical Committee on Land Reform (PTCLR), Professor Peter Adeniyi, in an interview with New Telegraph recently, said the Land Use Act has pauperized Nigerians, calling for its removal from the constitution for possible review and amendments.
Adebayo urged the president to see the reviewing of the National Housing Fund as one of his top agenda,pointing out that opinion of many was that the NHF be opened, accessible to all, transparent and accountable “because the housing sector is not only an access to housing but to job and investment markets.”
Other stakeholders called for immediate passage of 11 housing and mortgage related bills in the National Assembly.
Their demand came following the inability of the 8th National Assembly to successfully amend and pass into laws some of the critical bills bordering on housing, land and construction.
They want incoming National Assembly to give those bills speedy passage in order to enhance home ownership through affordable housing production and mortgage among Nigerians.
Some of the bills include the Mortgage Banks Act 1989; Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) Act 1993; the Trustees Investment Act 1962; and the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) Act 1993.
Others are the Insurance Act 2002; Investment and Securities Act 1999; Federal Housing Authority (FHA) Act 1990; Securitization Bill; Foreclosure Law Bills – Residential Mortgage Act and Residential Mortgages (Incentives) Act, among other.
According to the former Managing Director, Lagos State Property Development Corporation, Mr. John Bede Anthonio, an architect, non-passage of these bills had impeded the development of mortgage and housing for the average Nigerian.
He pointed out that, it would be difficult to attract investments into housing and mortgage sectors without proper regulations.
“If you don’t have laws to govern, how can investors invest in the housing market, which is huge,” he said.
He pointed out that without foreclosure law, developers would continue to be at risk of selling via mortgage or on instalment payment, hence the need for urgent passage.
Stakeholders also demanded that the President should pursue policies that would enable affordability of housing in Nigeria, pointing out that economic interventions that could reduce the cost of building materials and also encourage local production are very critical to the at this time.
Adebayo commended the introduction of schemes like the Family Homes Funds,which intended to deliver about 500, 000 homes in 2023, urging the President to offer the initiative more support so that the objectives of the fund could be achieved.
He suggested to the president to enable processes that would make it easier for cooperatives to pull their resources together and contribute to National Housing Funds.
The housing sector, Adebayo said was often fraught with challenges like substandard development, incompetency, building collapse, fraud and responsibility conflicts.
Due to these, he said a case was being made for the establishment of a supra regulatory entity that would oversee the activities of practitioners, developers, professional bodies and agencies in the sector.
Adebayo said: “When it comes to regulation, the housing development and finance sector in Nigeria is having an oversight dilemma. For example, the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) is by function and design a bank, however, the regulatory control of the institution is being contested by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Ministry of Works and Housing. This is because it is intervening in two folds. It is intervening in housing development and housing finance at the same time. This is a misnomer.”
The need for a supra regulator, the affordable housing promoter said has become important in order to check the individuals and organizations that frequently venture into the sector without meeting any form of standard or requirement.
While stakeholders agreed there was need to have a lot of investments and investors in the sector, Adebayo said it was also necessary that they operate in an environment with control and regulation.
While calling on President Buhari to see to the establishment of supra-regulatory agency that could bring order and development in the housing sector, he stated that currently, there was no entity saddled with the task of handling problems associated with developers and housing finance fraud in the industry.
To develop the housing sector in Nigeria, stakeholders believed that the kind of special interventions that the Federal Government initiated through the Central Bank in agriculture and the other areas like the stock market should be introduced too for housing.
He noted that agricultural policies like the Anchors Borrowers have greatly impacted agricultural production in Nigeria, stating that if an equivalent policy is introduced in housing, there would be a great change in the sector.
Adebayo also called for stakeholders engagement to fashion out a unitary agenda for tackling the problem of housing in Nigeria.
Stakeholders also tasked the Federal Government on economic and political stability, pointing out that housing development won’t be possible in an environment smeared by violence, vandalism and terrorism.
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