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Group tasks 9th assembly on affordable housing legislations

 Housing Development Advocacy Group of Nigeria, an NGO has urged the leadership of the ninth National Assembly to introduce policies that would enable affordability of housing in Nigeria.

The President of the NGO, Mr Festus Adebayo made the call to newsmen on Thursday in Abuja.

Adebayo said that after decades of neglect, the newly inaugurated ninth national assembly must realise that a lot of legislation was needed to develop Nigeria’s housing sector.

“The advocacy group is demanding that the 9th assembly should introduce policies that will enable affordability of housing in Nigeria.

“Legislative interventions that can reduce the cost of building materials, give incentives and encourage local production to attract investors,” he said.

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The expert called for the introduction of schemes like the Family Homes Funds which was intended to deliver about 500, 000 homes in 2023 and had been commended by a lot of stakeholders.

He urged the ninth assembly to offer more support so that the objectives of the fund could be achieved even as more of such initiatives were being advocated for.

The group president urged the lawmakers to enable legislations that would make it easier for cooperatives to pull resources together and contribute to national funds on housing.

According to Adebayo, Nigeria has the biggest and most promising housing market in Sub-Saharan Africa, but it is ironically the least developed in terms of defined transactions dynamics and operating conditions.

This, he said, was often fraught with challenges like substandard development, incompetency, building collapse, fraud and responsibility conflicts.

He said that a case was being made for the establishment of a supra regulatory entity that would oversee the activities of practitioners, developers, professional bodies and agencies in the sector.

“When it comes to regulation, the housing development and finance sector in Nigeria is having an oversight dilemma. For example, the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) is by function and design, a bank.

“However, the regulatory control of the institution is being contested by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Ministry of Works and Housing.

“This is because it is intervening in two folds. It is intervening in housing development and housing finance at the same time. This is a misnomer.

“The need for a supra regulator is also important in order to check the individuals and organisations that frequently venture into the sector without meeting any form of proper governance, ethics, standard or requirements,” he said.

Adebayo said that while stakeholders agreed that there was need to have a lot of investments and investors in the sector, it was equally necessary that they should operate in an environment with control and regulation.

He regretted that currently, there was no entity saddled with the task of handling problems associated with developers and housing finance fraud that was rampant in the sector.

He added that fraudulent developers and some unscrupulous mortgage banks had swindled a lot of people because the kind of regulation that should have been in place to check their excesses and nip it in the bud was absent.

“The activities of some Federal/State Government MDAs responsible for key acts in the sector have introduced massive disruptions via corruption, bureaucratic bottlenecks and gross ineptitude.

“There are also a lot of concerns about the fact that there is no regulation with regards to the amount of interest charged by housing financers.

“While the CBN can intermittently intervene in special or urgent areas of concern, it is more focused on macro-economic issues and inflation.

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“The ninth assembly has to, in a collaborative effort with the executive, see to the establishment of this supra-regulatory agency that can bring order and development in the housing sector.

“A National Housing Council comprising public and private sector stakeholders and involving professionals/players from the supply and demand sides will ensure a holistic approach to goal attainment,” he said.

Adebayo said there was need to introduce legal reforms that would enable timely resolution of housing and investment cases in law courts.

These legal reforms, he said should also make it impossible for lawyers to abuse the system.

On the interest rates, he said that both for public and private mortgage institutions ought to be within a single digit rate.

He said the current rate was very expensive and was affecting affordability for many Nigerians willing to key into the mortgage plans in the market, thereby urging intervention in this area even if it would require stakeholders’ engagement.

“The assembly should consider legislations that will embolden public and private mortgage institutions in Nigeria to consider the option of lowering mortgage interest rates in order to increase housing affordability. (NAN)