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Why COREN Must Be Empowered To Curb Quackery – Reps

The House of Representatives Committee on Works on Thursday stated that strengthening the Council for the Registration of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) to eliminate quackery from the profession informed the National Assembly’s decision to amend the establishment Act.

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Speaking to journalists in his office in Abuja, the committee Chairman, Honourable Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu), said “the Act as it is now can only bark but cannot bite but with the passage of the Bill amending the Act, the Council can bark and bite now”.

Okechukwu said: “most of our people do not realise how our lives are controlled by engineers or by engineering.

“For you to be here and for you to be able to air what you are interviewing me, it has to be occasioned by engineers.

“The camera you are using has to be built by engineers, when you were coming out this morning you took a bath, to transport water from your tank or from the tap to your bath was done by an engineer.

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“For you to move to this place with a vehicle was done by an engineer; for us to have light and electricity, it is controlled by engineers,” he said.

Speaking further on the necessity of engineering and how indispensible they are in the society, the lawmaker added that “we felt that if these people are controlling us to this extent, we only remember them when buildings collapse, when we have air crash or accidents or brake failure or when there is no light, you begin to look for the “useless man who has done this.

“And we have lost a lot of lives based on the activities of engineers, and a lot of them who claim to be engineers are quacks.

“So there are conditions precedent for you to be an engineer; a practising engineer and you have to be tooled by a regulator every year.

“The essence of the amendment to the Engineers Registration, Etc Act, otherwise known as COREN Act is to make sure that our people are equipped enough, that people who are not professionals, who are not equipped, who will go and begin to do all manner of constructions are removed from the system.

We give them capacity to discipline, we give them capacity to punish and to fine and through that they will be able to raise some revenue and be able to control what happens in the profession.
“So for us legislators, it is a safety matter. It is a matter that goes to the core of our being. That roads fail you call engineer but there are people who are doing all manners of constructions without having the proper certificates to do so and the COREN Act as it is presently, is not able to punish anybody, he submitted.

He argued that since there was no adequate legal framework to hold professionals accountable using stringent punishment, it was necessary to amend the existing law that takes care of matters within the profession.

“You can control those who are professionals but you cannot control those who are outside the system. But now we have made it possible that you can control those who are outside the system who call themselves engineers but are not engineers.

“There are people who go ahead and give approval for roads and bridges and they will go and start constructing a bridge without a design and there are supposed to be quality assurance services to be done by consulting engineers.

“So it is a major issue for us as parliamentarians representing our people knowing the major pressure points that they have.

“In one of the states in the South East, a governor just got up and gave contracts, COREN had to investigate it and one of the bridges was deflecting and the solution to it was that they said go and have some pillars to support when something has a fundamental error; because prior to commencement even if you have to do piling, you have to do soil investigation to know the kind of application you have to do.

“So a lot of our citizens are exposed to some perils that are avoidable, so the COREN Act is supposed to cure that so that they become professionals in letter and in practice.

“And as a matter of fact, our own is to ensure that the passage of these bills begin to change the narrative both in efficiency, in the level of professionalism, in terms of exposure to raise our people’s experience,” he added.

El-Rufai launches Renewable Solar Power Assembly plant in Kaduna

Gov. Nasiru El-Rufai of Kaduna State, on Wednesday, inaugurated Blue Camel Renewable Solar Power Assembly Plant and Renewable Energy Training Academy in Kaduna.

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The governor said at the launch in Kaduna that the plant was important to the Kaduna State Government “because we believe that renewable energy and solar energy were the future of the developing world.

“The world today has become mobile, personal, decentralised and aggregated with the rapid drop in components required to make solar energy.”

The governor said that with the present development, every home could generate it’s own electricity, adding that it was one of the reasons why solar project was important to the state and to Nigeria as a whole.

He explained that “today, we laid the foundation for the democratisation of electric energy to every home and every school in Kaduna State.”

According to him, solar energy is the future of electricity supply, it is cost effective and easier to ensure that every home gets supply.

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“It is possible and we are going to show that it is possible in Kaduna State because Blue Camel will not only energise street lights but also schools and primary health centres,” he added.

The Managing Director and Founder of Blue Camel, Yusuf Suleiman, said the power assembly plant and training academy was initiated and completed within eight months.

Mr. Suleiman said the rapid completion of the project was achieved due to support of the Kaduna State Government, which provided the company with land within 24 hours of request.

According to him, the project has the capacity to assemble over 10,000 units of different solar products in a year and train over 3,000 youths in different renewable energy entrepreneurship skills.

He said that the company was ready to lead in solving energy related problems across different sectors of the economy.

He, however, revealed that so far, the company had invested over one million dollars and would be investing another five million dollars within 24 months to ensure the delivery of solar generated power to factories.

He added that the development of the projects would help and also impact on Federal Government’s economic recovery and growth, especially in areas of skills and capacity development technology transfer, entrepreneurship and job creation.

The managing director said the project was proof that the private sector was willing to invest if given enough support by government.

He called on agencies and the Ministry of Power to match its drive of incremental power with policies that would encourage local content investment. (NAN)

‘Obey town planning laws or face sanctions’

LAGOS State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development Commissioner Rotimi Ogunleye has charged residents to obey town planning laws.

He spoke at a stakeholders’ meeting organised by the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authourity (LASPPPA) for Amuwo-Odofin Local Government and Oriade Local Council Development Areas.

He urged Lagos residents to obtain building permits to enable them have safe properties, adding that this could also serve as a collateral for loans.

Ogunleye explained that building with permits would ensure that the city is planned, and tourism-friendly.

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The Special Adviser to the Governor on Urban Development, Mrs. Yetunde Onabule, reiterated that planning was essential to developing a smart city.

She advised residents to inform the government of any violations to avert building collapse.

The ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Boladele Dapo-Thomas, thanked the people for supporting the Akinwunmi Ambode-led administration, urging them to keep on supporting the government to do more projects.

LASPPPA General Manager Mr. Funmi Osifuye, a town planner, explained that creating functional communities requireds adhering to the “Operative Development Plan” for the areas.

He said the development plan for Amuwo-Odofin LGA and the Oriade LCDA was the Badagry Masterplan covering 2012 -2032.

Osifuye, however, said the government was aware of the various factors affecting the approval of planning permits for developers, such as land title on federal and state acquisitions, illegal conversions, and illegal development.

He said the government had made provisions to encourage compliance with building plan laws through continuous public sensitisation. Besides, he said the process had been made easy for the public.

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Osifuye said there was a provision for the electronic submission of applications via the ministry’s website, payment/validation of processing fees, email notifications, status and dashboards for electronic stage-tracking of applications and provisional planning permit.

Osifuye warned that the state’s policy on regularisation for applicants who had illegally converted their buildings to other uses still subsists, adding that there is a moratorium of six months from this month to August, for developers and property owners who had either started construction or built without obtaining the requisite planning permit.

He urged Lagosians to seize the opportunity for voluntary compliance with the rules to avoid penalty.

40 years of Land Use Act in Nigeria: Time for proper review, says Babalola

Land Use Act has been described as the most contentious law in Nigeria. In this interview with Tunde Alao, Chief Executive Officer of Gravitas Investment Limited, (promoter of Gracefield Phoenix), Mr Olufemi Babalola, x-rayed the Land Use Decree (now Act), of 1978, its implications on national development, the abuses, and the seeming endless but untapped benefits inherent in land, among others.

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Land Use Act was initiated in 1978, as a decree promulgated by the military administration headed by General Olusegun Obasanjo, which was 40 years back. How will you assess the act in today’s Nigeria?
To begin with, Land Decree of 1978, by the military was noble, both in conception and execution to a certain extent and I didn’t see any reason for its revocation for the fact that prior to 1978, how did we hold land in Nigeria? Communities and families held the lands, a situation that stifled development. For example, you have a family with 20 children holding on to a vast land. But when there comes opportunity for development and 19 of them agree with one dissent, what happens? The project cannot take off no matter how lofty was such project, simply because one person differs. But the promulgation of the decree removed this singular aberration.

But can we say that it was a rosy situation since the Act was made as far as land administration in Nigeria is concerned?

Again, according to Chapter 202 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990, that amended the Land Use Decree into the Land Use Act, it interpreted the law as an Act to vest all land compromised in the territory of each state (apart from lands vested in the Federal Government or its agencies), solely on the Governor of the state, who would hold such land in trust for the people and would therefore be responsible for its allocation in all urban areas to those who needed it for developmental projects, while similar powers with respect to rural areas are conferred on local governments. This commenced from March 27, 1978.

However, the Act today has posed serious challenges orchestrated by the operators of the law. Land Use Act was designed to create land use registry for the states, unlike before when there was no central land use registry. This development is good for land management, but sadly enough, not much was achieved as a result of laziness by some governors, who doesn’t know, or understand the revenue potentials inherent in proper land management.

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Can you explain more on that because one of the most controversial legislations in Nigeria remains the Land Use Act?
Not necessarily controversial, but just like many of our laws that were well crafted with good intentions, but the operators are the problems. As I said earlier, Land Use Act removed obstacles created either by communities or families in whom land were formerly vested, which from all indications, crippled housing projects or other physical developments in the country. But the truth of the matter is that it is time to redefine the Act and make it work as it ought to be. Let me give the example of what is in place in Great Britain. In that country, there is no codified law, but conventions and Parliamentarian Acts not necessarily written down and things are working seamless. So, the problem is not with the Act, but with the operators, and in this case the governors.

How?

Good. Do you know that most of our governors who have the power to manage land are not making use of them productively? Is it not a strange coincidence that some of them depend solely on what comes from Abuja as Federal allocation? Some will stay in Abuja waiting for allocation when lands are there lying fallow. Look at Malaysia, the country depends on Indonesia for sand supply. Sand! Why? Because they don’t have land and look at the development in that country. But here we have everything in abundance, but the cry is there is no resources in my state, my state is poor.

There has been a repeated call for the Act to be removed from the Constitution to make its amendment more realistic and less cumbersome, and that there will be no meaningful growth in the real estate sector if land continues to be under the firm grips of the state governors. What is your take on that?
I said it in the beginning that I support Land Use Act. But having said that, I will also support any amendment that will remove the inherent bottlenecks in the operation of the Act. But back to my position, no matter how good or flexible a law is, the onus still lies on the operators.

Again, I may say that land has become so expensive because unlike in the past, you could buy a piece of land from either the community, an individual or from even a company and you go and register that title at the Land Registry. Once it is registered, it becomes a bankable document.

But the fact still remains that for an investor, buying land from government, though it may not be cheaper, but it’s more secured than from any other sources.

Also, implications of the Land Use Act borders essentially on ownership rights. If one acquired a land without a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), the land may not necessarily be for that person. All you have is a lease. You never have a free-hold because government can seize that land or property without any form of compensation. The power to do this rests within the Land Use Act, which reads: “All the rights formerly vested in the holder in respect of the excess of the land shall in the commencement of this Act be extinguished and the excess of the land shall be taken over by the Governor and administered as provided in this Act.”

Under the Land Use Act, the governor is responsible for allocation of land in all urban areas to individuals’ resident in the state or to organisations for residential, agricultural, commercial and other purposes while similar powers with respect to non-urban areas are conferred on the local government.

Delta, TURECC Flag Off 1,000 Housing Units For Civil Servants

Asaba – Delta State Government, in partnership with TURECC, an international estate construction firm, has flagged off 1,000 Housing Units. This is part of the efforts of the state government to make the state civil servants and others have their houses.

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Mr. B O Omoniyi, the director and head of marketing, Delta Trust, who represented Delta State Government, said on Tuesday that since it was a right for everybody to have a house and not a privilege, it was also possible for everyone to possess the houses without stress.

While he explained that TURECC had a number of good products and vision, noting that housing was essential through investment and others, he encouraged everyone to patronise the bank, which is solely established by the Delta State Government for housing purposes, explaining that the bank had various facilities to finance any property project without hindrance to the beneficiaries.

Pastor Elvis Uto, TURECC’s director of operations, in his opening speech, averred that the firm was out to encourage everybody to invest in land property, be an investor and be able to leave something for the next generation.

According to him, there were opportunities in such packages like TURECC Own a House, TURECC Apartment, TURECC International Properties, TURECC Business, Garden City, Construction and others where would-be property owners could invest in and became property owners without stress.

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He said what is important is to have a regular income, “identify the type of two or three bedroom executive desired and from your budget choose between the Toy House Executive, Toy House Delux and Toy House Standard available.”

Uto disclosed that whether the owner of the land had started construction or not, had approval or not, it does not matter but that what was important was for the intending house owner to register with TURECC, which would perfect the other documents to the Certificate of Occupancy, C Of O.

Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company injects another SR1 billion into Saudi housing finance market

RIYADH: The state-owned Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company (SRC) continued its mission of supporting the consumer mortgage market with the injection of SR1 billion ($266 million) funding from Amlak International.
It is SRC’s third SR1 billion transaction and demonstrates its growing role as a catalyst for the Saudi housing market. The agreement announced on Tuesday was SRC’s first refinancing deal of 2018. It includes portfolio acquisition and a short-term financing (Murabaha deal).

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Fabrice Susini, SRC’s chief executive officer, said: “We will keep enabling lenders to offer more accessible home buying solutions to more Saudi citizens by providing liquidity as well as balance sheet relief.
“The deal also signals SRC’s commitment to the Ministry of Housing to offer more accessible housing finance solutions and facilitate market growth.”


Real estate financers Amlak’s chief executive officer Abdullah bin Turki Al-Sudairy said: “As the first company granted a license to engage in real estate financing in Saudi Arabia, we recognize the need to work with the public sector to grow the real estate market.
“This agreement will help us provide sustainable mortgage solutions to ensure that citizens can easily own the right home.”
He added the deal showed what can be done through cooperation and an effective relationship between the public and private sectors. The SRC, fully owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) — the country’s main sovereign wealth fund — was formed in 2017 to create a secondary home loan market in Saudi Arabia. In line with Vision 2030 objectives, SRC aims to improve the real estate market, increase its contribution to GDP, and raise home ownership to 52 percent by 2020. The Kingdom’s mortgage market is expected to grow from SR280 billion in 2017 to SR500 billion by 2020.


Amlak International was the first real estate financing company approved by the Saudi Arabia Monetary Authority (SAMA). Amlak International recently announced that it will offer the first real estate financing for Ministry of Housing beneficiaries to acquire ready-made housing units within King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).
Over the past 10 years, Amlak has developed a close working relationship with developers, financing more than 9,000 units in more than 100 projects across the Kingdom.

Obaseki Pegs Time for Building Approval at 48 Hours, CofO, 30 Days

By Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City

Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has charged the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development to ensure a 48-hour turn-around time for approval of building plans in the state within the next two months.

Gov. Obaseki also directed the Edo Geographical Information Agency to ensure that Certificates of Occupancy (C of O) and Rights to Occupancy are issued to applicants within 30 days of application, demanding that this should take effect in the next 12 months.

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He gave the directive while speaking at a two-day workshop organised by the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, themed: ‘Strengthening the Institutional Framework for Physical Development Management in Edo State,’ held in Benin City, the Edo State capital, recently.

Obaseki said the two-day workshop was organised to develop the expertise of stakeholders and strengthen the institutional framework for physical development and management. He said there was need to re-calibrate the management of the physical infrastructure to make room for well-coordinated urban development.

Noting that development had not been controlled for a long while in the state, he said, “This has contributed to raising a generation that lacks required knowledge on the importance of registering development plans. People need to be educated on the importance of registering their building plans. People just wake up and do what they like, and in the process turn cities into slums,” he said.

Obaseki added, “The focus of this administration is to re-enact and rebuild the physical development and space of the state. There is need to explore the use of legal frameworks to reposition the Urban and Rural landscape of the state. This will assist us in capturing the needs of the people in the state without compromising standards.”

He said his administration has developed well-thought-out plans hinged on six strategic pillars to include institutional reforms, environmental sustainability, culture and tourism, among others, adding that “the state intends to ensure sanity in urban development.”

8th Global Housing Finance Conference

The World Bank Group will hold its 8th Global Housing Finance Conference on May 30 – June 1, 2018. The theme of the conference is “Breaking the Mold – New Ideas for Financing Affordable Housing” and we will explore innovative ideas around the role housing finance can play in ensuring access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing. Preconference sessions and a site visit are planned for May 29, 2018.


The theme for the 2018 Conference is “Breaking the Mold – New Ideas for Financing Affordable Housing”. The conference will not only create awareness of the major challenges in developing or strengthening housing finance markets but will also focus squarely on solutions and resolution of these challenges by highlighting innovations, new ideas and global experiences in the sector.

The Global Housing Finance conference is an opportunity for policy makers, practitioners, NGOs and donors to gather, exchange views, learn about latest developments and to network.

The registration fee is US$1,000 per person, and covers all course materials, admission to seminar sessions and social events. Travel, accommodation, and other expenses are not included, and are the responsibility of each participant.

This year, the conference will take place over 2.5 days, in addition to preconference sessions scheduled for May 29, 2018. Preconference sessions are smaller, simultaneous sessions that provide an opportunity to delve deeper into selected topics and facilitate a broader discussion.

Why FMBN Is Operating Like A Development Bank Under My Watch – Dangiwa

The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) was established to meet the housing needs of all Nigerian citizens. The apex mortgage bank in Nigeria which was founded in 1956 is saddled with the responsibility of monitoring and regulating the activities of mortgage institutions in Nigeria. In this interview with A team from HOUSING NEWS, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the FMBN, Arc Ahmed Musa Dangiwa, reveal some of the far-reaching measures he is taking to bring the bank on the path of progress, with a view to providing Affordable housing for all Nigerians.

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What is your vision for Federal Mortgage Bank?

My vision, first of all, is to operate like a development bank, thereby working towards meeting the national housing mandate, facilitating funds for our customers, who are the contributors, and ensure transparency and accountable to the stakeholders as well as make profit returns within the framework of good corporate governance. So, our vision is to reposition the bank as a foremost apex mortgage bank in the country and provide affordable housing financing for contributors to be achieved through improved and transparent operations. All of these are achievable with the cooperation and collaboration of stakeholders. This is our primary aim and main focus.

 

This is a laudable vision, no doubt, but it takes concrete action to realise such vision. What specific measures are intending to adopt to realise your vision?

We intend to achieve this vision through five strategic areas. First is the promotion of sound corporate governance as I said earlier. Corporate governance is to ensure accountability, fairness, transparency and corporate culture, which are necessary to maintain the integrity of the bank for smooth operation in the way we do business. Second is to encourage public private partnership to mobilise resources to reduce the country’s acute housing shortage. It is a means of sourcing adequate funding for affordable housing delivery. It is about the best way to go in closing the current nation’s housing deficit. This PPP arrangement is important because it involves partnering both local and foreign developers who are willing to develop affordable houses for Nigerians, especially for the low-income group in the society and interested contributors. We also have to strengthen partnership with finance institutions for resources and funding, which will also help the bank achieve its set objectives. Every stakeholder is carried along in ensuring that we achieve the overall objective. Last week, we went to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) where we went to partner with them towards enhancing our contribution base. The FIRS has the checklist of all the listed and registered companies. We want to see that even the public sector is brought into the National Housing Fund contribution base. We are also working on adopting a robust risk management because it is key to identifying and applying best practices in managing risks arising from bank operations.

What has been the result of your public private partnership?

The result has been tremendous, in the sense that we have found that our contribution base is improving when it comes to NHF contributions. Even state governments that have pulled out of the scheme, we are working towards ensuring that they come back on board. Our debt recovery is also improving. We are ensuring that all our debtors are engaged in fashioning out the best to recover the debts in the mutual interests of all parties. Under the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration, the president has promised to ensure that Nigerians get the best of dividends of democracy, among which is the issue of housing.

 

How is the bank positioning itself to address the nation’s housing needs?

Well, in view of the commendable housing programmes of the federal government to provide houses for the low-income earners in the country en masse, the bank is positioning itself towards the realising set objectives. The bank is also positioning itself towards providing the mortgages, at least, for the houses that are on ground for interested contributors and members of the public. We are also in discussions with institutions like AMCON, which you know has a lot of funds. I can’t call them idle funds; I believe these funds can be invested in providing houses for the masses. We are also in touch with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) for similar participatory operation structure in contribution. Increasing our contribution base will mean high flow of funds into the bank, which will now be used in providing mortgages for the Nigerian population.

Your programmes and policies seem to be targeted at civil and public servants only. When you talk about making housing affordable to the large Nigerian population, do you ever think of the informal sector of the society?

The housing products of the banks include both the formal and informal sectors. The fund is also to service the non-salaried informal sector. The NHF is for the civil servants, while corporate housing funds are loans given to the informal sector through cooperative societies. The cooperative societies approach us for loans or funds for individual or housing estate, and we oblige them as long as they can make remittance or deductions. Another aspect of housing we are looking at now is the rent-to-own scheme which we are working on. It is about to be completed and sent to the FMBN’s Board for approval. It is almost like the owner occupier which we used to have in the past. For instance, the Festac 77 houses built by the Obasanjo administration were houses the federal government built for guests and when they left, the houses were given out to Nigerians. You are paying rent and at the same time, owning the house. Most of the houses that are ready and are on ground now can be used as testing ground for this policy. This one is good even for the informal sector. The federal government recently provided about N500 billion to resuscitate the bank, with a view to making mortgage facilities easily available to Nigerians. How far has the bank gone in utilising the fund? The bank is still pursing the N500 billion recapitalisation fund. We are yet to access that money; we are still pursing the fund from the federal government and even other stakeholders like the CBN. Talks are ongoing right now on the matter and we are optimistic that it will be approved sooner than later. The Council of Works and Housing is looking into the matter.

 

Different statistics are being bandied around as far as the nation’s housing deficit is concerned. What is the accurate or, perhaps, near accurate figure of the nation’s housing need?

The official figure or number of Nigeria’s housing deficit is put at 17 million, but this has been said over the last four or five years. I am sure, by now, it should be between 18 million and 20 million. The 17 million was an estimate by the World Bank. But the fact is that we are faced with an acute housing deficit that we must reduce at all cost. And that is why data is very essential. If you have a data base, it will enable you plan and then know what you have on ground. Whatever the housing deficit is, I think that the important thing is to take concrete steps towards reducing it. Even if you start by building 100 houses per two months, it will help in reducing the deficit gradually. If you are delivering that you will surely reach your destination. There is a national housing census which the federal government is trying to carry out. There is a committee set up, National Real Estate Development Data. It is collaboration between the CBN, FMBN, estate developers and other major stakeholders in the housing sector. The data collection is ongoing. We have representatives in that committee but as you know, the housing deficit is a lot of money. We will need over N16 trillion to bridge the gap.

So, with about N16 trillion you can tackle the nation’s housing deficit?

The primary challenge facing the National Housing scheme is lack of funds and PPP is believed to be the most effective way of mobilizing funds to bridge the N16 trillion investment gap in housing. Other means have to be put in place. One, we are now pursuing our recapitalization to the tune of N500 billion like I said earlier. With the recapitalization, which is geared towards sourcing funds through both local and foreign capital markets, I am sure we will be able to enhance our portfolio, contribution base and meet set targets. Foreign direct investment is also important in helping to meet the housing targets. It is equally important for us to get all the major stakeholders in the sector together towards achieving that goal. Currently, in Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, we are pursuing the completion of 95, 000 housing estates. Our focus is to ensure the completion of ongoing housing projects in order to reduce the deficit. The private sector has been doing remarkably in this regard. If you go round Abuja, for instance, before you see one or two of government-funded estates, you will have seen 10 housing estates owned by private developers. The private developers are doing much as far as housing delivery is concerned. What we want the government to do is to provide interventions in terms of infrastructure and access roads, even within the estates. That will also further reduce the cost of the houses when the developers are about to sell them or mortgage them to interested customers.

Is the FMBN thinking of partnering with agencies like the UN Habitat for affordable housing?

Yes. Inevitably, you have to do that inasmuch as you know that mortgage business is capital intensive, especially here that funds are not easily available. UN Habitat is where you can access cheaper loans and funds on long term basis. This is the kind of collaboration we are doing for social housing funding to customers and developers. You said the FMBN is collaborating with the FIRS to enlist all corporate organisations to key into contributing to the National Housing Fund (NHF) Scheme. In a country where getting people to contribute to a project financially is not always easy, how do you intend to achieve this in terms of enforcing compliance? Recently, we paid a courtesy call to the FIRS to seek collaboration in that regard. We are seeking collaboration in data sharing to identify listed companies and firms that are expected to contribute to the NHF scheme and that has helped a lot. They expected to participate but they are not. The aim is to expand the NHF base to provide adequate mortgage funding to contributors. We even went to partner the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) to see how they can help us to ensure that those who are supposed to contribute to the scheme do so. As these companies bid for contracts, they are compelled to ensure that their staff and employees contribute to the NHF scheme.

 

Where is the NHF account domiciled?

The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) is the manager of the funds. We collect the contributions and manage the NHF. It is from this fund that we give out mortgage financing and loans to contributors and estate developers.

 

How much do you have in the NHF account currently?

Presently, we have over N40 billion in the NHF account but it is money that comes and goes out. The NHF contributions are refundable in a way to the contributors. Whether you access loans or not, the money is refunded to you when you retire or reach the age of 60. It is with this fund and other investments that we get the liquidity to provide mortgages for houses to individuals and developers.

 

What role is the FMBN playing in the implementation of the federal government’s FISH programme?

We have been a major stakeholder in the FISH programme in many areas in the sense that from inception, we have on the FISH committee. We have been part of the design and implementation of the programme through our representatives on the board. Currently, we are packaging and disbursing 600 houses to the FISH programme. Out of these 600 houses, we are mortgaging 200 of our funded houses to the FISH programme. We have communicated to the FISH headquarters and they have sent acceptance letter. We also have another 400 houses from the non-funded which we are packaging to mortgage to them.

 

What is the volume of the loans that the FMBN has given out?

The volume of the loans is much. We have given out a lot of mortgages, repayments are being made and more people are coming into the scheme. Since inception, over N160 billion has been given out as loans. This is from the estates that we have already constructed. We are in an economy where people don’t like repaying loans. How is that affecting your operation? It is affecting our operation in that it is only when people pay back their loans that we will have enough funds for others to benefit. But we are happy with the coming of new technology that will address that. We are partnering with NIMC on accessing bank accounts and BVN of loan defaulters. A defaulter, who has three or more bank accounts, can have his accounts mopped up once there is any payment into any of the accounts through BVN. This technology is going to help us a great deal. Talking about loan defaulters, the FMBN once sought the assistance of the EFCC in the recovery of about N90 billion bad debts from fraudulent developers and others who obtained housing loans from it but misappropriated such funds. We are yet to see any prosecution or conviction. To what extent have you gone in this regard? Well, you won’t see prosecution or conviction now because we are engaging our debtors. When we came in four months ago the first thing we did was to invite them here for discussion. We have been engaging them to ensure that we recover our funds with minimal or zero litigation. The EFCC too has been of great assistance in the recovery of debts owed to the FMBN. Due to that effort, over the last four months, the bank has recovered over N700 million. We have been able to increase the recovered debts from N692, 057,316.58 by end of March 2017 to N2,409,068,660.18 by August 2017. We are working with the NDIC, especially, as it affects distressed banks. And we have some fruitful responses from the debtors. You also expressed worry that seven states, including Lagos, Kano, Edo, Ondo, Kebbi, Niger and Oyo have withdrawn their participation from the NHF scheme, and the reluctance of some corporate organisations and states government to deduct and remit 2.5 per cent of basic salary of their workers to the Bank, thus impeding the operations of the bank and the NHF scheme. What steps are you taking to address this? Well, we are currently reaching out to these states to see if we can bring them back on board to the NHF scheme. You forgot to mention Ekiti which has just returned back to the scheme. Mostly, we always tell them the advantages of joining the bank because of the numerous products they can access and enjoy. We have, for example, the renovation loans, which non-participants can’t benefit. We have about 500 houses that are lying idle in the states funded by the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria. But the houses are not accessed because the states are not joining the scheme. Lagos is about returning; we have been engaging them. Since you came on board four months ago, there must have been some challenges that you have encountered that you didn’t envisage before now. In the face of all of these, what has kept you focused? What encourages me in the face of daily challenges is the fact that this is Nigeria, our country, where a lot of people don’t feel comfortable doing the right thing. There is no where you will go to that there are no challenges but the major challenge has been the insincerity of Nigerians. People think that mortgage funds are government money which is meant to be shared into private pockets. That is why when they collect mortgage they feel reluctant to pay back. But with concerted effort this can be addressed.

Mobilizing Islamic Finance for Infrastructure Public-Private Partnerships

Islamic finance has been growing rapidly across the globe. According to a recent report, the Islamic finance market currently stands around $1.9 trillion. With this growth, its application has been extended into many areas—trade, real estate, manufacturing, banking, infrastructure, and more. However, it is still a relatively untapped market for PPP financing.

A new PPIAF-funded report by the World Bank Group and the Islamic Development Bank Group represents the first systematic effort to capture and disseminate knowledge on deploying Islamic finance for infrastructure PPPs. As such, it fills a critical information gap that exists among a vast majority of infrastructure development practitioners.

The report’s goal is to help developing countries tap into Islamic finance as an additional resource to meet their huge and growing infrastructure needs. Our discussion will address how Islamic finance has already been applied in infrastructure projects through PPP schemes, what the structural challenges and solutions are, and what can be done to deepen and maximize the use of Islamic finance for this purpose.

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