• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Hope for Nigerians in Canada as FG plans Diaspora mortgage scheme

Hope exists for Nigerians in the Diaspora, especially those in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

The federal government is perfecting plans to launch a housing finance lifeline, the Diaspora Mortgage Housing Scheme.

According to the government, the scheme, launched in February 2024, aims to enable Nigerians outside the country to have decent shelter in Nigeria they can call home.

It is expected that the scheme will be not only affordable at the single-digit interest rate but also accessible to all.

Minister of Housing and Urban Development Ahmed Dangiwa disclosed the government’s plan when he received the visiting chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, and some management staff in his office in Abuja recently.

Many of the Diaspora Nigerians do not have their own homes in Nigeria for various reasons ranging from affordability issues arising from the lack of a functional mortgage system to fear and fraudulent activities of some relations who convert money sent for housing projects into personal use.

Read also Japa: Canada extends work hours for international students until 2024

Many of these people, especially those in Canada, are homeless there as a result of the housing crisis in that country.

The media, in the last 12-18 months when the lapa wave in Nigeria intensified, has been awash with reports of homelessness in Canada and dire housing situation for some in the UK.

The reports have it that due to the rent crisis arising from low housing supply and affordability issues, which also define the housing situation in Nigeria, some Nigerians in Canada are now living in cemeteries and streets—places considered unimaginable for habitation under normal circumstances.

According to the reports, the streets of Canada and, in extreme cases, the cemetery have become top destinations for immigrants and refugees, whose number runs into tens of thousands, who are now pitching their tents in these places as their homes.

Read also Top 10 tips for a smooth migration to Canada

In Quebec, one of the country’s largest cities, for instance, one in two homeless people can be located in rural areas in odd places. This is explained by Julie Bourdon, the Mayor of Granby, who noted that “visible homelessness did not exist three years ago in Granby,” adding, however, that “rents are very high now compared to two years ago.”

Largely for this reason, Dangiwa assured that the government was committed to addressing these challenges, among other issues, with the planned Diaspora Mortgage Scheme and delivering on the tripartite mandate of a Diaspora City Project in partnership with NIDCOM, federal housing authority (FHA) and federal capital territory (FCT).

The tripartite Diaspora City Project is situated at Maitama 2 and sits on over 675 hectares of land. Dabiri-Erewa told the minister that Nigerians in the Diaspora were enthusiastic about both the Diaspora mortgage scheme and the upcoming Diaspora smart city in the FCT.

She said that about 20 million Nigerians in the Diaspora are remitting an average of $24 billion annually and are, by so doing, shoring up the Nigerian economy.

The Diaspora Mortgage Scheme is just one of many initiatives by the government to make housing in the country more accessible and affordable to many Nigerians, particularly those within the low-medium income group.

Read also Canada pledges $18m for poverty, humanitarian response in Nigeria

As a passionate minister with about 30 years of experience in the housing and mortgage sectors of the economy, expectation is high that Dangiwa will change the narrative, especially in the mortgage system, which has suffered slow growth over the years.

Only recently, at the 20th edition of the mortgage banks CEOs’ annual retreat, did the minister canvass flexible repayment plans for mortgage loans, urging mortgage banks to adopt rent-to-own mortgage options as part of strategies to develop innovative mortgage products and make commercial loans more affordable.

He urged all bank CEOs to ensure that Nigerians within the low and medium-income segments have access to affordable mortgages, advising that business owners should not see the provision of housing and home loans from a business and profit prism but as a moral imperative to reduce the number of homeless persons.