The Senate on Thursday queried the effort of the Federal Government to implement workable initiatives that could provide adequate shelter to the masses, as it felt irked by the lack of affordable housing for the poorest Nigerians.
Consequently, the Senate mandated its Committee on Housing to collaborate with various stakeholders in the National Housing Development sector to make housing affordable.
The Senate issued the query while considering a motion on the urgent need to reform the Housing Policy and Mortgage Financing in Nigeria to meet the escalating housing demand in the country.
Sponsored by Senator Albert Bassey Akpan, the motion sought to proffer solutions to housing challenges of low and middle-class income earners that constitute the largest active population in the country.
According to him, a majority of Nigerians find it difficult to have access to affordable housing, including those working for the government.
Akpan recalled the creation of the National Housing Fund through the National Housing Fund (NHF) Act of 1992 which, he said, was specifically intended to cater to Nigerians in line with the various Housing policies and International Conventions and Treaties to which Nigeria is a signatory.
He stated that by virtue of the provisions of the NHF Act, a working class Nigerian is required to contribute 2.5 percent of his or her monthly salary to the fund which provides the source of funding to the Primary Mortgage Institutions (PMIs).
“Access to the fund through the PMI is cumbersome due to stringent and complex eligibility criteria which makes the development of housing through the fund challenging or practically impossible to date.
“Since the creation of the fund in 1992, the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria as of 2013 disbursed only N100.5 billion.
“In 2015, out of 4 million registered contributors to the fund, only 60,000 (1.5%) were able to access mortgage loans through the funds, leading to the construction of only 40,653 houses across the country.
“There is a dire and urgent need for a total review of our National Housing Policy framework to meet the needs of our people, especially the poorest Nigerians in line with the various International Conventions/Treaties of which Nigeria is a signatory,” Akpan said.
Contributing to the motion, Senator Fadahunsi (PDP, Osun East) said it was until the Federal Government totally overhauled the country’s housing policies before the burdens of poor Nigerians on housing would be curbed.