OrderPaperToday– The House of Representatives has resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to probe the expenditure of over N360 billion Housing Fund deposited at the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN).
The lawmakers also urged the federal government to take urgent steps to overhaul the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria in order to address the housing malaise in Nigeria.
These was contained in a motion seeking to probe the bank sponsored by Mr. Julius Ihonvbere (APC, Edo) and adopted by the House.
Speaking on the motion, Ihonvbere noted that by virtue of Section 5 (a, e-f) of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, the Bank is mandated to:
“(a.) provide long-term credit facilities to mortgage institutions in Nigeria at such rates and on such terms as may be determined by the Board in accordance with the policy directed by the Federal Government
(e.) collect, manage, and administer the National Housing Fund in accordance with the provisions of the National Housing Fund Act;
(f.) do anything and enter into any transaction which in the opinion of the Board is necessary to ensure the proper performance of its functions under this Act”.
He said it was curious that “the FMBN has over N360 billion (three hundred and sixty billion naira) in its account and yet, only an insignificant number of sixty-three thousand people out of the five million contributors have been able to access the fund over the past twenty- eight years.”
The legislator disclosed that “over four million, six hundred and forty-seven thousand (4,647,000) contributors are left at the mercy of shylock landlords all over Nigeria largely due to no fault of theirs, but the bureaucratic nature and slow pace of doing business in Nigeria”, while according to him, the bank “has only been able to deliver a paltry twenty-eight thousand housing units across the country in the face of the ever burgeoning demand for housing.”
He also noted that the process of urbanisation is an ongoing trend in developed and developing countries, with urban centres in Nigeria experiencing rapid and continuous growth over the years, due to rural-urban migration, while decrying the inadequacies of infrastructure to meet the needs of the increasing urban populace.
“Studies have shown that about 75% of urban settlers live in slums and improper housing, which is antithetical to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of enhancing human dignity,” he stated.
The professor of Political Science warned that with the pace at which the Mortgage Bank is going, a large percentage of contributors will never be able to actualise their dreams of owning a house of their own in their life time.
He said despite the large sums of contributors’ money and the force of legality at its disposal, FMB has failed to deliver on its mandate of providing housing for Nigerians and the continuous retention of such large sums of money by the bank is a veritable source of corruption which should be discouraged.
The House then mandated the Committee on Housing to, as a matter of urgency, investigate the structure, operations and challenges facing the bank and report back within nine for further legislative activity.