Stakeholders ask government for establishment of National Housing Commission

Amid concerns that emerging economies, including Nigeria need a whooping $16 trillion to overturn housing deficit, stakeholders and international eggheads that met in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja last week, have provided the road map to rejuvenate the nation’s housing and construction sectors of the economy.

They believe the bulk of the housing deficit falls within the low, middle income and affordable segment of the market; that government should create enable environment, policies and reduce its engagement in direct construction of houses as well as minimize its taxation on the real estate sector.

Statistics by the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa show that Nigeria needs $363 billion (N 111.08 trillion) to meet current housing deficit. Annual additional housing units required is 730,000 units at N5 million per house, which amounts to N3.65 trillion yearly funding. It also estimates nation’s housing demand to be between 38 – 44million million units.

The stakeholders met at the 13th Abuja International Housing Show in Abuja organised by International Housing and Construction Show Limited, where they observed that the risk in sub-Saharan Africa is exaggerated relative to market fundamentals, adding that those who understood that earn outsized returns.

They said the failure to match the annual increase in households and housing needs with a comparable increase in new homes built as well as its adverse impact on the nation and its citizens has made them to seek for the establishment of a Nigeria / National Housing Commission (NHC).

The immediate past Managing Director, Nigeria Mortgage Refinancing Company (NMRC), Prof. Charles Inyangete who led the advocacy for NHC said: “Setting up the NHC will create a focal point for housing and is an imperative for achieving the ERGP’s vision of “sustained and inclusive growth.”

In the proposal, NHC would initially have two-prong mandate to establish a National Housing Policy – that also addresses first-time home ownership, develop a housing economic model for Nigeria. The NHC will also set standards to monitor and evaluate housing policy as well as sector in the country.

Under the plan, the stakeholders expect a Presidential Order to constitute the Nigeria Housing Commission in this year, which made up of no more than 12 members to drive the mandate of the NHC.

The proposed membership will include representatives from; Central Bank of Nigeria – CBN, Representatives of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), Pensions Commission.

Others will be seven independent members including the Chair drawn from, banking-finance and capital markets background, lawyer, risk management expert, accountant / banker / mortgage / housing / construction industry expert and a representative of the National Assembly.

Inyangette, who is the Chairman, Innovative Risk and Investment Solutions, explains that the commission would report to a specified Economic / Finance Committee of the National Economic Council. According to him, “a well-functioning housing market can be a vital economic sector and a potential source of job creation.”

He said that solution lies with a comprehensive urban plan and delivery of not only affordable homes but also sustainable new communities. “We will only succeed in building homes by building sustainable communities.

“There is no one size fits all solution to the continent’s, especially Nigeria’s affordable housing crisis. Any solution to affordable housing has to maintain the dignity of the members of the community. We need to build homes that are durable and will last a long time,” Inyangette added.

The Managing Director, Mixta Hospitality and Retail, Mrs. Sade Hughes revealed that diaspora investors hunger for a partner to trust with their money and their dreams of a home while private sector actors who can deliver quality and value, and build a trusted brand, will make significant opportunities for decades.

She stated that the rest of the world is becoming predictable, less table, and more risky. But Nigeria and the rest of the sub-Saharan Africa have an opportunity to provide the contrast.

In his speech, the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan said: “There is no better time for us to move faster in our ambition to provide decent shelter for everyone. It is indeed a core mandate for us to deal with one of man’s greatest basic need with urgency and competence.”

He noted that concerted efforts are now required to think of multiple ways of funding housing development to enhance provision of homes, grow the economy, Gross Domestic product and create job opportunities.

Represented by Sen. Ashiru Oyinlola, Lawan pointed out that the amendment of Land Use Act and National Housing Fund (NHF), enactment of housing regulations and enabling policies are captured in the legislative agenda of the 9th Senate.

The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF), Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, said, the theme for this year’s edition “Driving Sustainable Housing Finance Models in the Midst of Uncertainty” is apt and central to the efforts of this administration in providing workable strategies and financing models in reducing the high and rising housing deficit in Nigeria.

Represented by Didi Wilson Jack, she disclosed that is the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) Programme currently has over 55,000 federal public servants registered on the scheme and 34 private real estate developers that have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the OHCSF to build affordable houses across the country under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.

According to the OHCSF, about 310 houses are at 90 per cent completion with many other buildings at various stages of construction. “Houses have also been allocated to more than 500 off-takers whose loans are at various stages of processing, whilst several Public Servants have already taken possession of their houses in two estates in Kuje and Karu in the Federal Capital Territory.

In his message, Nigerian Institute of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), President, Sir Rowland Abonta recommended for the establishment of a reliable and sustainable database in Nigeria, which will confirm the housing stock, complexities in the housing needs and basis future programmes.

While calling for an enabling environment that will attract foreign direct investment and encourage private sector funding into housing, he called for an inclusive housing development agenda on short, medium and long term basis.

Earlier, the convener and Managing Director, International Housing and Construction Show Limited, Mr. Festus Adebayo said the forum was created for local and international industry professional to brainstorm on how best to grapple with challenges in housing and construction.

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