Amid cconcerns that some contributors to the National Housing Fund (NHF) have not been able to access loans, the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) has assured Nigerians that the amendment of the enabling legislations in the scheme would make it more robust and beneficial.
Accordingly, the bank explains that the objective is to expand its coverage to capture the potential 50 million-market sizes and contribute significantly to the target of creating one million new mortgages on an annual basis, while maintaining the single-digit interest rate.
It also expounds that the step will further reach the downmarket beyond the lower medium income bracket; increase mortgage sector contribution to national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), meet the changing mortgage landscape and remain relevant in the face of other mortgage financing developments in the Nigerian Housing Sector.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive of the Bank, Ahmed Dangiwa, an architect, made this known in Lagos during the Lagos Housing fair under the lecture titled; “Exploiting opportunities offered by the National Housing Fund Scheme” in Lagos.
Over the years, the NHF Scheme has contended with periods of rejection by workers, but as at date, it has recorded a customer base of 4.6 million individual contributors and 22,290 organisations.
Currently, workers in twenty-eight (28) States of the Federation comply with the NHF Act by making monthly contributions. Regarding financial inclusion amongst the non-salaried, informal sector, 21,320 informal sector workers have been registered through 1,078 cooperative societies as contributors to the Fund.
NHF has funded the origination of more than 18,085 mortgage loans, the delivery of 25,850 housing units across the country, and 11,927 FMBN Home Renovation Loans, while a total of N19.3 billion has been refunded to 201,534 beneficiaries who have retired and consequently exited from the Scheme.
He restated that the bank was committed to achieving some objectives of the NHF which are: to mobilise funds for the provision of affordable housing in Nigeria; supply loans for building, purchasing and improving residential housing; incentivise capital market investments in property development and provide long-term loans to mortgage institutions for on-lending to contributors to the Fund.
“The framework for the NHF Scheme provided that its loans be granted at interest rates below market rates and on concessionary terms for affordability.
The purposes of the loans are also specific to funding mortgages for the outright purchase or construction of residential housing as well as the renovation/expansion of residential housing.
Over the years, FMBN has established construction financing loan windows to boost housing supply and is granting mortgage and construction loans through housing cooperatives. In addition, all contributions by individual workers are subject to a full refund, with savings interest based on terms specified in the NHF Act”.
Represented by the Zonal Officer of FMBN in charge of Lagos, Fashina Abiodun, he advised Nigerians to take advantage of its products which include; NFH mortgage loan, Estate development loan, the cooperative housing loans, FMBN home renovation loan and the ministerial pilot housing scheme.
He also assured that before the end of the next quarter, the Bank intends to achieve full automation of the NHF contributions collection process, to ensure transparency and accountability adding that each contributor will receive SMS and email alerts of monthly deductions and access historical contributions records online, real time.
“A “Rent-to-own” product is under process to eliminate the need for 10-30per cent equity down payment to make homeownership more accessible and affordable. The Bank is also engaging in strategic partnerships with stakeholders, through collaborations on the management and utilisation of the NHF Scheme.
“A case in point is the partnership with the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), and the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) for housing delivery to Nigerian workers.
Besides that, it is also a partner under the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) Programme aimed at facilitating homeownership for Federal public servants”, he said.
The major challenges of the NHF scheme according to him also include; workers’ contributions have been the only source of funding the NHF Scheme since inception, inability to enforce mandatory investments by commercial banks and insurance companies, and failure on the part of the Federal Government to make financial contributions, which has significantly limited the potential volume of resources.
He further added that the participation of eligible contributors to the Scheme is low, at just below 10per cent of the estimated 50 million-strong national workforce while affordability remains a major challenge to deepening the Nigerian mortgage market due to low-income levels in the country.
By Victor Gbonegun