Nigerian Govt urged to penalise National Housing Fund Act violators

Ilubirin Housing Estate design

Housing Estate design

Housing Estate design

Some stakeholders in the housing sector on Tuesday in Abuja called for stiffer penalties against violators of the National Housing Fund (NHF) Act.

They made the call at a two-day public hearing on a motion on the need to ensure full compliance with the National Housing Fund Act for effective housing delivery in Nigeria.

Mr Oluseyi Lufadeju, a trustee at Real Estate Development Association of Nigeria (REDAN), accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and some commercial banks of not contributing to the fund in violation of the law.

According to him, Section 5 of the NHF Act stipulates that commercial or merchant banks shall invest in the fund 10 per cent of its loans and advances.

“The loan or advance will be at an interest rate of one per cent above the interest rate payable on current account by banks.

“Also, every registered insurance company shall invest minimum of 20 per cent of its non-life funds and 40 per cent of its life funds in real property development.

“Of this, not less than 50 per cent shall be paid into the fund through the Federal Mortgage Bank (FMB).

“Section 11 of the NHF Act provides that the CBN shall collect from commercial and merchant banks at the end of every year and not later than one month after, the percentage of their contribution to the fund.’’

Lufadeju, however, said that without full capitalisation, the FMB could not fulfil its obligation of providing affordable houses to Nigerians.

“This non-compliance by the financial sector is hampering efforts to address housing deficit in the country and it should be made to be enforceable that anybody that fails to comply with the law should face stiffer penalties,’’ he insisted.

Executive Partner, Nord Consult, Mr Mohammed Khalil, said since the enactment of the NHF Act, deposit banks and insurance companies had not invested in the fund, in flagrant violation of sections 5(1) and 11 (1) of the NHF Act.

“Figures of loans and advances by Nigerian banks from 2011 to 2016 from the CBN amount to N67 trillion for the six-year period.

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“At 10 per cent investment of their loans and advances into the NHF, about N6.7 trillion should have been invested in the fund by the banks over the period,’’ Khalil said.

He added that an analysis of total loans and advances by the commercial and merchant banks in 2016 was N15 trillion.

“At the rate of 10 per cent, the CBN pursuant to Section 11 is supposed to have credited the NHF with the sum of N1.5 trillion by March 2017,’’ he added.

Khalil said that if the Federal Government was to create at least one million new homes through a national mortgage single digit interest rate, it would require N6 trillion.

“It follows, therefore, that at the current official figure of 17 million housing deficit, the Federal Government will require a staggering N102 trillion,’’ he said.

Also, Mr Emmanuel Atama, Executive Secretary, National Cooperative Financing Agency of Nigeria (CFAN), stated the need for regulatory bodies, government agencies and other stakeholders to facilitate the funding for providing houses in Nigeria.

He called for constant supply of loans to Nigerians for the purpose of building, purchasing and improvement of residential houses.

Mrs Hannatu Fika, Executive Secretary, Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board (FGSHLB), said providing incentives for the capital market to invest in property development was crucial in proffering sustainable solutions to housing deficit in the country.

She urged the Federal Government to encourage the development of specific programmes that would ensure effective financing of housing development, particularly low-cost housing for low income earners.

Mr Victor Uchendu, representative of the Nigeria Law Reform Commission, called for severe punishment for violators of the NHF Act, to serve as deterrent to others.

“Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the NHF Act must be carried into effect and all those in violation ought to be brought to book and answerable for their act of violation before a court of competent jurisdiction.

Uchendu urged members of the committee to champion the efforts to re-enact a Bill to establish a Fund that will meet the expectations of Nigerians on housing and other related matters.