Leading real estate CEOs have highlighted the lack of cooperation between housing agencies in Nigeria as one of the reasons behind the idea of merging housing agencies including the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, Family Homes Funds Limited, and Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company among others.
This was the thrust of discussion during the one-on-one virtual session with CEOs on Setting a Real Estate and Housing Agenda For the Incoming Federal and State Governments anchored by Festus Adebayo, Executive Director of Housing Development Advocacy Network (HDAN)-a leading and pioneer NGO on housing in Africa
Speaking to the manifesto of the President-Elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, which suggests the merging of housing institutions of government, leading real estate CEO, Olajumoke Akinwunmi, Managing Director/Co-Founder at Alitheia Capital, pointed out that the thinking behind the merging may be as a result of the way many of the housing institutions operate in silos and at cross purposes, sometimes resulting in lack of coordination.
She said that if the institutions are not merged, they must somehow come together under the umbrella of some overriding entity that will supervise and enforce collaboration among them and allow the expertise of one to work for the other in the overall interest of the housing sector.
Akinwumni called on stakeholders to also look inwards to tackle weak governance structures across the board, stating that this does not mean the government is unable but a housing-friendly environment will give housing sector leaders the upper hand in terms of ability to bring solutions to the table. “It doesn’t reside usually within government and those institutions alone”, she added.
She also said relationship building is very key, especially through public and private engagement to make housing and effective policy direction start to happen. Additionally, she noted, that there is some kind of osmosis that needs to take place between the private and public sectors for a lot of policies that have been formulated to be implemented properly.
On his part, another leading real estate CEO, Hakeem Ogunniran of Eximia Realty and Vice Chairman of the AIHS Board, called on the New Government not to merge the FMBN, FHFL, NMRC institutions but step back to understand the roles they can play in the housing ecosystem in Nigeria if they are properly regulated, structured and their functions recreated.
Ogunniran says merging can cause inefficiencies. Therefore, she stated, the FMBN, FHFL, NMRC as well as other housing agencies should be overhauled, strengthened, provided with more resources, made more accountable, and given a better orientation and focus to enable them to play a more effective role in the sector’s ecosystem.
Citing her experience in government, Akinwunmi also added that to address the nation’s housing issues and make those institutions within the sector collaborate better, stakeholders must continue to engineer, insist on and drive collaboration between the private sector and government as well as public and private sectors.
Addressing the issue of government financing housing, Ogunniran cited what happened during the COVID-19 pandemic when people were asked to sit at home and some people had no homes to sit in and emphasized that the incoming government of the President-Elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, should consider the speedy implementation of housing-friendly policies and give housing intervention funds to drive the country’s economy, create dynamism and boost investment in housing which, in turn, creates jobs for many Nigerians.
“When you create a site, immediately a market develops, you begin to provide market access for labourers, food sellers, vendors among others. These are the things that oil the economy” he said.
Paying attention to the Land Use Act, “there are issues with the regulations, so the federal government should focus more on getting the state governments to create, formulate and implement regulations of the land use Act that will help to drive and create a proper regulatory environment” Ogunniran added.
Meanwhile, stakeholders under the Housing Development Advocacy Network (HDAN) agreed that the new government must act fast, take effective steps, build the right coalition, and hit the ground running to deliver decent, resilient, and affordable housing for all.