Kingsley U.N Chikwendu
This month, precisely the 18th, the current executive leadership of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria [FMBN] marked its four years in office. Within this period, while it is hoped that a lot more need to be done, it has been a period of reform, progressive change, and unrivaled performance by the Arch. Ahmed Dangiwa led management.
With the level of mortgage loan disbursements to stronger ties with stakeholders in the housing industry, innovative housing product designs, financial transparency, and broad institutional reforms, the FMBN Board and its management team have built and sustained a trajectory of strong corporate performances through the years.
This has confirmed the FMBN’s commitment to its drive in ensuring that the homeownership dreams of the National Housing Fund [NHF] are met.
As earlier pointed, in the course of its leadership, there has been an increase in loan disbursement as seen between April 2017, when the management team took charge of the bank till date, it has leveraged funds accruing to the National Housing Fund (NHF) Scheme to record N130.460 billion in various loan disbursements.
This include over N43billion in NHF Mortgage Loans granted to 4,985 beneficiaries; Home Renovation Loans totaling N49.265billion granted to 60,500 beneficiaries; deployment of over N38 billion towards the development of 9,540 affordable housing units across the country through different construction product windows amongst several other milestones.
The size of mortgage loans disbursed within the four-year period is remarkable at many salient levels. It accounts for over 46 percent of the cumulative N282.914 billion that FMBN has disbursed since the NHF Scheme commenced operations 29 years ago in 1992. Also, the amount translates to an 85 per cent increase in the cumulative value of mortgage loans totaling N152.453 billion in April 2017 when the Management team came on board to N282.914 billion as of February 2021.
Also read: Staff of ICPC can take advantage of FMBN’s affordable housing products – Arch. Dangiwa
In a bid to reform and reposition the bank, FMBN engaged the services of a reputable International Consultancy Firm, Messrs. KPMG Limited to produce a five-year Strategic Turnaround Plan for the bank. The plan was approved for implementation at the 202nd meeting of the Board of Directors in May 2020.
The past four years have witnessed improved efficiency in the management of the NHF scheme that requires workers to contribute 2.5 per cent of their monthly income, which qualifies them to access all FMBN products and services.
In a bid to lower the financial burden on potential homeowners within the low- and medium-income segment of the economy seeking FMBN housing loans, the FMBN within the period under review proposed and secured approval for a reduction of equity requirement for accessing mortgage loans. The historic downward review of equity requirement for accessing the NHF mortgage loan has made it more accessible and affordable to Nigerian workers within the low- and medium-income brackets.
This implies that workers who contribute to the National Housing Fund (NHF) consistently and are up to date are eligible for up to a N5 million loan without having to put down a single kobo as equity while those seeking for loans above N5 million to N15 million will only put down 10 per cent as equity.
After years of pushing and promoting legacy housing loan products, the current board and management opened a new vista of innovative home loans designed to create a good fit between what the bank is offering and the income capacity of workers who subscribe to the NHF scheme.
Another equally worker-centric affordable home ownership product that FMBN has up scaled is the Home Renovation Loan. The loan provides up to N1million to enable beneficiaries who already own their homes to carry out improvements. About 63,079 Nigerians have benefitted from this facility in the last four years.
FMBN has also revamped its legacy Cooperative Housing Development Loan (CHDL) in line with the initiative of the Minister of Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) to adopt cooperative societies as the channel for the aggregation and delivery of houses to members of cooperative societies.
Another notable achievement of the FMBN within the past three years is the launch of FMBN Digital Platforms. Key components of the FMBN Digital Platform Solutions Suite of services include the *219# USSD Short Code service via GSM mobile networks; NHF Mobile Apps available on android & iOS platforms; online Self-Service Kiosk and SMS and email notification services to NHF customers.
This enables contributors to receive instant notifications, check records of NHF contributions on the go, update NHF personal records, check NHF balance of contributions, register and retrieve NHF numbers, request for statements of account, calculate home affordability and mortgage payments, and obtain latest NHF-related information from the FMBN Bulletin Board online service.
In a move aimed at strengthening stakeholder participation and confidence in the operations of the National Housing Fund (NHF), the FMBN in conjunction with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) embarked on the National Affordable Housing Delivery Programme for Nigerian Workers.
The Housing Program aims at a structured and sustainable approach to affordable housing delivery for Nigerian workers nationwide.
The FMBN Board and Management have worked hard in the past four years to rebuild stakeholder confidence in the National Housing Fund (NHF) Scheme. As a result, six states re-joined the NHF Scheme. This includes Borno, Niger, Edo, Ondo, Kebbi and Lagos states, bringing the total to 34 states and the FCT.
It is important to note that when the current Management assumed office, four years of corporate financial statements were in arrears for the period 2013 – 2016. Within the past three years, the management team has worked hard to update the accounts.
Currently the 2013, 2014 and 2015 FMBN audited financial accounts have been approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in accordance with the banking regulations. Those for the year 2016, 2017 have been prepared and submitted to the CBN for approval while the 2018 accounts have also been approved by the Board and are being signed off for submission to CBN. In the same vein, accounts for years 2019 and 2020 are expected to be concluded within this quarter to bring the Bank’s financial records up to date.
Yet another important high point of FMBN achievement is the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the nation’s apex bank to procure and deploy a Core Banking Software Application.
Once operational, the application would help the FMBN to tackle the many systemic challenges that it has had to contend with over the years due to the largely manual nature of its operations.
This includes fixing the longstanding inability of the Bank to update, in real-time, subscribers’ monthly contributions to the NHF Scheme by ensuring that NHF subscribers get real time alerts on all transactions on their NHF Accounts and stay informed on the status of their accounts.