By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said that the National Assembly is willing to amend the Federal Housing Authority Act to boost efficiency of the regulatory agency, as well as ensure compliance by private estate developers to government policies.
Lawan stated this when the Managing Director of the Federal Housing Authority, Gbenga Ashafa, led a delegation on a courtesy visit to his office at the National Assembly, Abuja.
According to the Senate President, an amendment of the FHA Act was long overdue, particularly against the backdrop of addressing the realities of the housing business in Nigeria.
“You talked about a possible amendment to the Act establishing the Federal Housing Authority.
“Propose those amendments and let us know through the Committee. It will be much easier for the National Assembly to help you by amending the Act.
“Identify the areas of law that you think that are holding you back, because I can see there are many provisions which you’re not able to implement.
“If you think we need a paradigm shift, then we will change what is there so as to bring in amendments that will tally with present realities of our country.
“From early 1990 till date, I believe a lot has changed in the way the housing business is done. As such, there is need to keep up with the realities of our time,” Lawan said.
The Senate President also advised the leadership of the Federal Housing Authority against proposing amendments to the Act that would allow the agency assume dual responsibilities of being an operator and regulator at the same time.
He cautioned that doing so would be counterproductive to the realization of government policies and set targets.
“Is FHA going to be a regulator or an operator? Because when you talk about development policy for housing in Nigeria, are you also going to be competition in estate development with those in the private sector?
“If you’re to do both, how do you guarantee optimal performance in view of distractions that may arise as a result of doing both? If you choose to be a regulator, you have to ensure compliance, efficiency and effectiveness in operations, especially by private estate developers.
“However, if you choose to be both, then you have to find an exact role for you as an operator,” the Senate President added.
The Managing Director of the Federal Housing Authourity, Gbenga Ashafa, on his part explained that the agency in its bid to provide affordable housing, came up with friendly policies that makes it easy for Nigerians to access housing funds.
“The National Housing Funds makes it possible for every Nigerian earning N3,000 and above, to contribute 2.5 percent of their monthly income to the scheme.
“Once they are able to do that for six months, they become qualified and eligible to access up to N15 million naira according to their monthly income and age.
“We have approval of up to N1.2 billion, and the interest rate is Six percent.
“The FHA is entitled to two percent of that interest, the Federal Mortgage Bank is supposed to retain another two percent, and the contributors who are Nigerians are expected to get two percent on contributions.
“If at the end of the day they could not access the funds, they are entitled to refunds with the two percent on whatever they have contributed.
“Primarily, we are originating mortgages on property developed by the Federal Housing Authority, and we are allowed to collaborate with private developers.
“For example, in Gwagwalada, 250 houses were built by the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria.
“Over 179 of the beneficiaries are medical personnel from the Abuja Teaching Hospital.