October 10, 2011

NGO calls for reform of housing finance

By Yinka Kolawole

Lead Director of Centre for Social Justice, Mr. Eze Onyekpere, has called on the Federal government to implement reforms on housing finance to boost the development of the sector.

Onyekpere made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja. He said that although government had established the National Housing Fund (NHF), the scheme needs to be reformed to enhance growth in the sector.

“Government should provide housing finance at single digit rate that is available to everybody. Let the National Housing Fund be reorganised, let the apex mortgage institution be properly financed and restructured so that they will have money. People are not paying or even the few people who are paying cannot access the fund to build their houses, so there must be reform in housing finance,” he said.

The NHF Act 2 of 1992 is a mandatory contributory scheme for both public and private employees and employers in Nigeria.

Onyekpere said that for housing to be accessible and affordable for the citizens, government must take urgent steps aimed at improving the quality and quantity of housing stock in the country. He decried high cost of house rent in some parts of the country and called on government to reduce the cost on land to enable people build houses.

The House of Representatives recently jettisoned the passage of a bill seeking to regulate house rent in Abuja.

Onyekpere noted that the FCT Minister Bala Mohammed recently said that only fifteen per cent of Abuja land mass has been developed. He said that the allocation of land to private developers in the FCT had denied many citizens access to affordable land and urged government to employ ways to tackle the problem.

”We had expected government not to simply give away huge portion of land to people known as ‘private developers.

The developers parcel the land into plots of 500 to 1000 square metres and sell them at outrageous prices without adding any value. Government should have a system where instead of paying middle-men, people can buy land at affordable rates,” he stated.