By Yinka Kolawole
Managing Director of Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, FMBN, Mr. Gimba Ya’u Kumo, has called for intervention in the housing sector through provision of affordable interest, and long-term finance for construction and mortgage in a bid to bridge the housing deficit in the country. Ya’u Kumo noted that most Nigerians are unable to own houses due to high and unaffordable interest rate systems used by many mortgage institutions as well as lack of long-term finance for housing development and mortgages.
“The housing gap is very wide, with deficits of 17 to 20 million units needed to address the housing needs of Nigerians. For this to be achieved, there must be a serious intervention in the housing sector by way of affordable interest, and provision of long-term finance for both construction and mortgage, and thirdly, government introducing special taxes like tax holiday, amongst others,” he stated.
Meanwhile, about 105 naval personnel contributors to the National Housing Fund (NHF) is set to benefit from the mortgage scheme being managed by FMBN, in fulfilment of its mandate to facilitate home ownership in Nigeria. The FMBN boss who he led a management team on a courtesy visit to Defence Headquarters in Abuja, noted that the bank has already disbursed the sum of N471.922 million to about 86 naval personnel from the NHF contribution.
He added that an additional N102.2 million already approved was being processed for disbursement to other contributors, while another N45.9 million was being processed for approval. He described the Nigerian Navy as one of FMBN’s strategic partners under the NHF scheme, adding that FMBN also provided NHF loans to civilian off-takers of the Naval Housing Estate in Kurudu.
In his response, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, called on FMBN to assist in bridging the 60 percent housing deficit existing in the organisation while pledging his readiness to support the bank towards achieving its goals. In a related development, FMBN is partnering with the Imo State government to build more than 2000 housing units for workers in the state.
The project which will be carried out by the under the Imo Model Scheme is expected to offer different categories of houses for its workers, ranging from semi-detached duplexes and blocks of flats. Governor Rochas Okorocha said the state government would provide about N10 billion, 60 percent of the cost, while FMBN would commit 40 percent to the project. He disclosed that FMBN would pay the developers and recover the money on behalf of the state government and itself.
The first phase of the scheme will commence 1,000 housing units. In his own remark, Executive Director of FMBN, Charles Ajifa, said some housing units constructed already by the bank, would be handed over to state government soon, adding that state’s contribution to NHF has hit N1 billion.