The Senate on Thursday mandated its Committee on Housing to urgently work out modalities with the various stakeholders in the National Housing Development sector to ensure the implementation of affordable housing for the poorest Nigerians.
The resolution was reached after the consideration of a motion on the “Urgent need to reform the Housing Policy and Mortgage Financing in Nigeria to meet the escalating housing demand in the country.”
Sponsor of the motion, Albert Bassey Akpan, said low and middle-class income earners constitute the largest active population in Nigeria.
This population, according to him, finds it difficult to have access to housing in their lifetime.
He recalled that the creation of the National Housing Fund through the National Housing Fund (NHF) Act of 1992 was specifically intended to cater for Nigerians in line with the various Housing policies and International Conventions and Treaties to which Nigeria is a signatory.
Akpan stated that by virtue of the provisions of the NHF Act, a working class Nigerian is required to contribute 2.5 percent of his or her monthly salary to the fund which provides the source of funding to the Primary Mortgage Institutions (PMIs).
He said, “Access to the fund through the PMI is cumbersome due to stringent and complex eligibility criteria which makes the development of housing through the fund challenging or practically impossible to date.”
“Since the creation of the fund in 1992, the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria as at 2013 disbursed only N100.5 billion.
“In 2015, out of 4 million registered contributors to the fund, only 60,000 (1.5%) were able to access mortgage loans through the funds, leading to the construction of only 40,653 houses across the country,” Akpan said.
The lawmaker further lamented that there exists little or no impact of the National Social Housing Development Programme in the country over the years owing to the escalating population growth in Nigeria.
“There is dire and urgent need for a total review of our National Housing Policy framework to meet the needs of our people, especially the poorest Nigerians in line with the various International Conventions/Treaties of which Nigeria is a signatory,” Bassey said.
In his contribution, Senator Fadahunsi (PDP, Osun East) called on the Federal Government to undertake an immediate overhaul of the country’s housing policies with a view to easing the burdens of poor Nigerians.
“There is need to reorganise the housing policy, so that it will benefit the whole of Nigerians as soon as possible,” he said.
Another lawmaker, Senator Binos Yaroe Dauda (PDP, Adamawa South) described Housing as “one of the fundamental needs of man.”
The lawmaker, who called for a review of housing policies and mortgage financing, added, “It is important for this sector to be reformed so that our people can have houses.”
Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to initiate the process of computerising the nation’s oil sector.
This, according to the Senate, is to curb the multifaceted challenges associated with the oil and gas production, transportation, and sales business in the country.
It also mandated its joint committee on petroleum upstream, downstream and gas resources to convene a public hearing to ascertain the quantity of oil and gas produced daily and the quality control mechanism engaged by NNPC.
Other task for the committee is to determine the amount of waste of petroleum products through pilfering, pipeline vandalisation and leakages, and international best practices of computerized oil and gas business management, including pipeline protection and quantity and quality control.
The resolutions were reached after the Senate adopted a motion sponsored by Senator George Sekibo (PDP, Rivers East) and 29 others on the “need to install computerized oil facilities management gadgets for Nigerian crude oil businesses.”
Presenting the motion, Sekibo said it was of concern that while other countries in the same business venture have gone digital for the past 50 years, Nigeria is still using analogue technology in doing its petroleum technology.
“We still use human beings (4 persons) to monitor a kilometer of pipeline, giving undue opportunities to oil pilfered, giving rise to unnecessary pipeline explosion, causing deaths and unquantifiable loss of products and other human valuables,” he said.
He regretted that Nigeria with over 61 years in oil business could not give account of total amount of products produced, sold, wasted and lost through pilfering, or pipeline vandalization.
He said petroleum products business should have been given priority attention in terms of protection, expansion, quantity and total quality control especially with oil as the mainstay of Nigeria’s income and foreign reserves.
He said Nigeria is the biggest oil producer in Africa with maximum capacity of of about 2.5 million per barrel, but noted that, “this meager quantity is always under attack through pipeline vandalism and oil platform theft which has reduced quantity produced”.
Sekibo said, “one key area of fighting corruption is through effective management of resource itself, that is the source of revenue just as this administration emphasizes on the fight against revenue pilfering by the operators”.
“The computerization of oil management system assist in the pipeline protection, trigger off alarms when any section of the pipeline is disturbed for whatever reason. The system detects if there is a weak section, captures suspected intruders on the pipeline, and are equipped with fire fighting gadgets in the event of fire outbreak”.
In his remarks before its adoption, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan described the motion as “genuine effort to ensure that we are not short changed as a country.”