The president commended the reform in the housing sector
President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday launched the National Housing Fund e-card scheme, declaring that his government will continue to reform the housing sector to bridge the housing deficit.
The President said e-card is expected to serve as an effective tool for contributors to the NHF to easily access and monitor their contributions and transactions with the Fund.
The launch occurs as the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria introduces the National Housing Fund Diaspora Mortgage Loan Scheme designed to provide housing opportunities in Nigeria to over 15 million Nigerians believed to be living outside the country.
Mr. Jonathan spoke at the commissioning of a N2.4 billion mass housing project of 270 flats by the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, FMBN, Aviation Village, Abuja.
“Let me emphasize that the national housing fund e-card which we are also inaugurating today is an effective tool for ensuring transparency and accountability of national housing funds contributions received by the FMBN. This is one this administration’s efforts at promoting transparency in the management of resources.
“Contributors will not only find the e- card useful in managing their fund but also boost their confidence in the national housing scheme. Those who are still in breach of the law by not contributing should now be comfortable to comply since they are assured of the safety and proper application of their money” he said.
The President commended the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, and FMBN for initiating and financing the Aviation Village project, describing it as one of the products of the reforms in the housing sector.
“As for this administration, I assure you all that improving the living standards of Nigerians is an imperative which we are resolutely pursuing”, he said, adding that the recommendations of the 2011 housing retreat he hosted in Abuja was now been implemented and results are emerging.
He recalled that the National Policy on Housing which was adopted by the Federal Executive Council in 2012 is also driving the reforms as housing financing institutions are being strengthened to increase their capacity for low income earners.
The President also praised the Public-Private-Partnership arrangement that gave birth to the Aviation Village stating that “our intention is not to create a government monopoly but to encourage the private sector to drive the process while we provide the right policies and environment”.
Commenting on the apparently small number of houses commissioned on Thursday, the President said that “what makes change is not the big things we do but the little things we do and to do them well”.
He added that it was better to recreate and replicate smaller housing estates in different places across the country rather than building very large estates of thousands of houses that may not eventually be well kept, or may not provide enough jobs for Nigerians who work in the housing sector.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Housing, Bukar Ibrahim, urged the President to reverse the marginalisation of the Northeast. He also commended the President for providing the leadership to the housing sector operators and regulators to allow for initiatives like the Aviation Village.
The Minister of Solid Minerals and Supervising Minister of Housing, Lands and Urban Development, Musa Sada, further disclosed that the FMBN would soon be recapitalised. He
charged the organisation to continue facilitating the construction of more estates around the country.
He also said a new National Building Code and other initiatives, is in the pipeline to encourage quality housing delivery in the country adding that despite the numerous challenges, providing affordable housing for Nigerians is possible.
The minister also said the new NHF e-card, was timely and in line with modern technology trends and will afford NHF contributors ease of online transactions with the NHF.
The Managing Director of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, Gimba Ya’u Kumo, gave a breakdown of the 270 flats.
He listed the importance of the e-collection platform and noted the growth in cumulative NHF collections; which he said had increased from N700 million to over N2.2 billion monthly.
“We estimate a further 100 per cent increase in monthly collections to achieve about N4billion per month before the end of 2014,” he said.
He also said the FMBN has recorded 65 per cent cumulative growth in collections and 42 per cent growth in total loan disbursements within 32 months with a 196 per cent increase in NHF refunds to qualifying contributors.
The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Abdulwaheed Omar, also thanked Mr. Jonathan for efforts made in the housing sector, saying that “we are witnessing true transformation”, especially with commissioning of housing units across the country.
Noting that much more needs to be done, Mr. Omar told the President that “nobody should discourage you when we invite you to come and commission more houses or even for ground-breaking ceremonies at new sites”.
A similar housing project for 80 housing units in Kuje district of Abuja – Unity Estate – initiated by the Lands, Housing and Urban Development ministry, was however yet to be completed almost three years after it commenced. The private contractor, mortgage financier, and the ministry traded blames over the delay.