By Chris Ochayi
The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, FMBN, has been mandated to grant 0 per cent equity for loans not exceeding N5 million to federal civil servants.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, disclosed this while speaking at the 7th National Council on Lands, Housing, and Urban Development, in Gombe, the Gombe State capital. He also announced a reduction of equity from 20 per cent to 10 per cent for loans up to N6 to N15 million.
Fashola said: “As for those who wish to buy houses, mortgages are the solution and we must issue more. This is in addition to a planned re-capitalisation and the opening of the National Housing Fund, NHF, to non-government employees.
“Between May 2015 and July 10, 2018, the FMBN has issued 3,862 mortgages to Nigerians to acquire their own homes. But this is not all that is happening or can happen in the economy with an appropriate commitment to housing.”
The minister, while speaking further at the National Council on Housing with the theme: Why Housing Can and Should be the Catalyst for Development and Sustainable Economic Growth, said President Muhammadu Buhari was determined to make housing affordable to Nigerians.
According to him: “Once again, the President has asked me to thank all those Governors who gave us land. Because of them, we are able to employ averagely, a thousand people at each of those sites, and this is only for the pilot stage. If you have been involved as I have been, you will know that the people employed at housing sites are builders, welders, carpenters, electricians, bricklayers, water and food vendors, and other suppliers along with labourers.
“They are the people who are largely paid on a daily basis or on weekly, or at best monthly basis.
These are some of the most vulnerable people in our economy as they are in other economies. Whenever government can reach these people and provide work for them, you know that such an economy is working.
“President Buhari has reached these people. I have met them and we need to do more by multiplying the Housing commitment. But beyond building houses, there is the problem of affordability and definition. It seems to me that whether it is to buy or to rent, affordability will always be an issue. But we must start by making clear to our people that not everyone can afford to buy or own a house, but it is ideal to at least seek to shelter everybody who has a job, by rental which is affordable.
“The question, therefore, is that after we have provided work for these vulnerable people, which pays them weekly or monthly in arrears, is it affordable for them when they seek to rent houses, and we ask them to pay one or two years rent in advance? This is not government, this is us, the landlords, and we can change this by accepting monthly rent in arrears secured with their employers’ guarantee.
“If this happens, we will see how housing will catalyse our economy. When my rent is matched with my income, you and I will be witnesses to a release and relief of millions of people who seek help to pay their rent even though they have a job. As for those who wish to buy houses, mortgages are the solution and we must issue more,” Fashola noted.
Meanwhile, the minister equally disclosed that his ministry was working with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to develop standards for pipes and installations that will facilitate domestic use of gas for cooking and heating.
Fashola, lamenting that the country is underutilising its gas resources especially in the area of domestic use for cooking and heating, said: “The oil and gas sector can also benefit enormously from housing if we all commit to implementing the gas master plan.”