By Yinka Kolawole
The federal government has commenced moves to address the problem of housing finance that has bedeviled the development of mass housing in the country.

Vice President Namadi Sambo disclosed this in Abuja, recently, at a seminar organised by the Real Estate Development Association of Nigeria (REDAN). The theme of the meeting was “Creating Wealth and Employment through Affordable Housing Provision.”

Represented by Minister of Housing, Lands and Urban Development, Ms. Ama Pepple, the vice president noted that arrangement was under way by the Ministry of Finance to meet all relevant institutions in the country responsible for housing finance in the quest to address the problem facing the sector.

Sambo also used the medium to task members of REDAN on the need to evolve a strategy that would lead to meeting the housing needs of Nigerians, especially through social housing scheme.

He said the synergy between the housing ministry and REDAN in the on-going review of the National Housing Policy would soon become a reality, adding that the present administration’s plan towards the realisation of the development of one million houses was part of the transformation agenda of government.

Sambo noted that the review of the National Housing policy and national building code in 2006 during former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration became necessary for the country to tackle the huge housing deficit. He agreed with the calls for the National Assembly to pass relevant laws to facilitate the operation of the policies.

In his remarks, National President of REDAN, Chief Olabode Afolayan, asserted that members of the association have contributed significantly to the housing stock in the country. “REDAN has added significantly to the housing stock by contributing about 70 per cent of houses being developed in the last five years and if given the opportunity by creating an enabling environment, REDAN is committed to reducing the housing deficit substantially,” he noted.

Afolayan further noted the association had succeeded in opening a new window of opportunity in the area of construction finance with Shelter Afrique in Nairobi, Kenya, for its members to obtain housing facility at lower interest rates, but added lamented that members are still confronted with big challenges.

“The legal infrastructure of the country poses the first major hurdle because the time and cost of the judicial process is unprofitable. The Land Use Act is a challenge from the angle of local, state to national in land acquisition, registration and transfer of titles. REDAN will continue to partner and advocate for a complete reform and enabling system for estate developers.

“Long term finance in Nigeria does not exist for the simple reason that investors do not have the confidence of continuity and consistence in governing policies. REDAN has gone to explore the window of opportunities (for example, Shelter Afrique) to provide financing based on REDAN past records of surviving in a difficult business terrain like ours,” he stated.

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