Ex-FISH chairman wants govt. to reduce mortgage financing cost


By Ella Anokam

A housing expert, Mr Yemi Adelakun, says the Federal Government should evolve efficient means of boosting the availability of houses by reducing the cost of construction and mortgage financing in Nigeria.

Adelakun, a former Chairman of the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) Programme, said this on Wednesday in Abuja at the maiden edition of the Nigeria Housing Finance conference.

The conference, with the theme “Financing Affordable Housing: Realities, Necessities and Possibilities’’ was organised by Finance Africa and Nigeria Integrated Social Housing Cooperative Society Limited (NISH).

“We need finance to buy land, technologies, building materials, infrastructure and to pay workers and professionals. We also need finance to buy completed houses; finance is however, a scarce and costly resource.

“We must identify domestic and foreign sources as well as alternative options of financing affordable housing, including equity financing.

Adelakun said that the current financing approach provided construction finance without making adequate provision for mortgage to enable off-takers to buy completed houses from developers.

According to him, this is why we have so many houses in locations nobody wants to live and prices nobody can afford.

“My experience as the former Chairman of FISH programme shows that a serious gap exists in the housing finance system in Nigeria for off-takers.

“There are thousands of prequalified FISH off-takers who are civil servants with verifiable source of income and guaranteed repayment deductions, yet there is no access to mortgage finance.”

He, therefore, called for a paradigm shift from financing the supply side (developers) to demand side (off-takers).

He also advocated for special housing intervention fund to guarantee better access to housing finance at single digit interest rate.

Adelakun, who is also the Managing Director of NISH, noted that intervention fund was a norm in countries that had achieved success in affordable housing.

He recalled that intervention policy in 2006 and 2007 during the sale of government properties when mortgage was pegged at seven per cent.

“The agriculture sector and other sectors are currently benefiting from similar intervention policy.

“The housing sector urgently requires similar intervention for maximum impact.’’

He identified land, technology, expert knowledge and skilled manpower, building materials, infrastructure and finance as the six most critical challenges inhibiting delivery of affordable housing in Nigeria.

Other issues include insurance of mortgages and properties, estate maintenance and management, legal framework like foreclosure laws and affordable housing bills.

Adelakun said NISH was aimed at mobilising, profiling and empowering off-takers of affordable housing, especially retirees, political appointees, professionals, private sector employees, artisans and others in the informal sector.

In an address, Dr Hanatu Fika, the Executive Secretary, Federal Staff Housing Loans Board (FSHLB) called for a workable strategy to enable civil servants in the country to own houses.

Fika said that the board had been making effort for civil servants to own houses, adding that not more than 1,000 workers had been able to own houses through the FISH programme.

“Affordable housing is a task that must be done well; all hands must be on deck and all stakeholders must collaborate, sacrifice and contribute towards its achievement.”

She expressed the readiness of the board to partner with NISH, a one-stop private sector agency for affordable housing delivery, in moving the sector forward.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the conference seeks to examine the existing housing finance system in Nigeria, review global best practices, proffer lasting solutions and chart implementation course for refinancing affordable housing in Nigeria.