By KINGSLEY ADEGBOYE
The hope of ‘the common man’ to have a roof over his head was brightened last week when the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, FMBN launched the informal sector co-operative housing loan scheme in Lagos.
This affordable home ownership scheme through co-operative financing is expected to give a vast majority of economically disadvantaged Nigerians who constitute the informal sector, the opportunity to have decent homes of their own.
Speaking at the event which comprised a large turn out of co-operative societies in Lagos, Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ms. Amal Pepple said the government has set the stage for the revitalization of the housing sector by according priority attention to mass housing delivery as a strategic national imperative.
He stated that in line with this, the federal government will stop paying lip service to the popular slogan of ‘housing for all’ by taking concrete actions towards making home ownership a reality for all and sundry.
Explaining that the scheme is particularly important for operators in the informal sector who constitute about 60 per cent of the productive labour force in urban areas, the Minister noted that to address the housing challenges of this important segment of the population, the government will be making rapid progress towards reducing the current housing deficit estimated at between 16 and 17 million housing units nationwide.
Ms. Pepple who stated that housing finance in Nigeria is encumbered by paucity of long term funds for housing/mortgage finance, said the unsatisfactory state of housing delivery is further accentuated by other constraining factors such as high cost of land acquisition, difficulty of obtaining title to land, high cost of perfection of legal processes, high cost of building materials as well as enabling legislation.
FMBN’s managing director, Mr. Gimba Ya’u Kumo explained tat through the new product , Nigerians in the informal sector will be registered as bona-fide contributors to the National Housing Fund, NHF.scheme and become eligible for affordable loans to construct, purchase or renovate residential accommodation anywhere in Nigeria.
He recalled some policies aimed at integrating the informal sector into the mainstream of national economy. Such policies include the promotion of small and medium scale enterprises, directives to commercial banks to engage in rural banking, encouragement of micro-finance banking, funding interventions for the agricultural sector and more recently, new strategies for financial inclusion of disadvantaged groups.
Kumo remarked that the government must continue to empower the informal sector through the provision of an enabling environment in terms of economic and fiscal polices.
Representatives of the Federal Housing Authority FHA, Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria REDAN, Mortgage Bankers Association of Nigeria MBAN, Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute NIBRRI at the launch hailed the initiative and commended FMBN for it.