Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has called for increased private sector participation in order to address the national housing deficit, and pledged the commitment of the House towards enacting the required legislation.
Speaking at a public hearing by the House Committee on Housing on a motion and four bills related to the National Housing Fund and the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, Dogara stated that citizens’ welfare should be of utmost importance to any government and shelter should therefore be considered a foremost priority.
“The government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has a duty and responsibility to carter for the welfare of its people. Housing or shelter is one of the most important and fundamental needs of man. The very concept of human dignity requires that a man should have a roof over his head.
“This is why the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria provides, inter alia, that the “state shall direct its policy towards ensuring that suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum wage, old-age care and pensions, and unemployment and sickness benefits are provided for all citizens”
He further revealed that the proposed amendments would make housing laws more encompassing and introduce the necessary changes, as existing schemes have not been very successful.
“The National Housing Funds (NHF) scheme was designed to assist public servants own homes while saving a percentage of their income. The private sector employees were also captured under the Act. Similarly, the government – through mortgage institutions – is expected to provide loans to real estate developers to build low cost houses for the people.
“Unfortunately, both programmes have not yielded the desired results as Houses are still not within the reach of the generality of Nigerians. Indeed, the provisions of the National Housing Fund Act and Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria Act are observed more in breach by most stakeholders mandated to perform one responsibility or the other under the laws. The proposed amendments capture virtually everybody including self-employed persons.”
He pledged the commitment of the House to working with stakeholders towards the provision of safe and affordable housing.
“Let me assure you of the determination of the House to collaborate with all stakeholders in ensuring supply of safe and affordable homes and provision of viable legislative frameworks that will lead to private sector participation and ownership in order to reduce these deficits. The Bills being considered today will have far reaching effects on many institutions and stakeholders and these stakeholders should pay attention to the issues and offer workable solutions.”
Stakeholders in the housing sector include the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Pension Commission, Pension Fund Administrators, Commercial and Merchant Banks, the Federal Mortgage Bank, the Organised private sector, the Nigerian Labour Congress, the National Insurance Commission of Nigeria, Employers of Labour both private and public, NSITF, among others.
The motion and bills considered during the public hearing are; A motion on the need to ensure full compliance with the National Housing Fund Act for effective housing delivery in Nigeria (HR.59/2017); A Bill for an Act to repeal the National Housing Fund Act Cap. N45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Re-enact a National Housing Fund and for related matters (HB.1077); A Bill for an Act to repeal the National Housing Fund Act Cap. N45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Establish the National Housing Trust Fund Act, and for related matters (HB.891).
Others include a Bill for an Act to Repeal the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria Act, Cap. F16 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to make comprehensive provisions for the re-establishment of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria and its Board of Directors and for related matters (HB.911); and A Bill for an Act to establish the Institute of Mortgage Brokers and Lenders of Nigeria to regulate the activities and ensure professionalism in the system and for related matters (HB.465).