By Yinka Kolawole
Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) has failed to fulfill its core responsibility of addressing the housing needs of Nigerians through the provision of mortgage financing.
This was the verdict of foremost architect and a former Lagos State Commissioner for Housing, Dr. Lanre Towry-Coker, at the presentation of his book titled “Housing Policy and the Dynamics of Housing Delivery in Nigeria: Lagos State as case study”, held recently in Lagos.
He noted that from the quantity of housing units it has delivered, the housing needs of Nigerians have not been adequately met since the inception of the FMBN.
Towry-Coker, who is also the Chairman/Chief Executive, Towry-Coker Associates, an architectural firm, said remarked that funding as a means to tackling housing challenges needs to be made liberal, adding that the mortgage policy has to be allowed to help the masses, just as the mortgage should not be more than five per cent.
“I think the Federal Mortgage Bank has been a failure over the years. There have been various names for it and they keep changing it, however how many houses have they built? The way out for me, and I will look at the South African Model, where the provinces do a cross check on the housing need for that area and request for funds to build will be made based on their survey and sent to the government and when the money is sent and expended, the reserves will be sent back to the government.
The government in South Africa is systematically adopting funding strategies for the housing sector,” he stated.
The former commissioner also canvassed adherence to the ethics of accountability in the housing sector, pointing out that funds channeled to the sector must, at every point in time, be properly recorded and managed to avoid possible abuse.
“Housing, in some part of the world, is a major economic index that measures the level of economic performance,” he explained.
Towry-Coker called for the creation of a housing database to assist in policy formulation, monitoring and integration of the entire housing sector into the economy, while lamenting that the dearth of relevant data has aggravated the problems of provision of affordable housing in the country.
He asserted that the discovery that there were no accurate data to work with in determining the quantum of houses needed nationwide partly inspired him to write the book.
According to him, what Nigeria needed was the provision of low-income housing schemes like the ones implemented in South Africa, using appropriate data like the age, sex, occupation and interests of those in need of houses.
These, he noted, will aid relevant authorities in knowing how to plan for the housing needs of the people now and in the future. He also canvassed that housing policy objectives of government must seek to synchronise the supply and demand side of the housing market.
The foremost architect said the 300-page book is a guide to solving the housing predicament in the country and not a solution in itself, as it shows the demographics and specifics for building and housing in the country, adding that it would be useful for institutions as a prerequisite for study on how to solve the housing needs.