Major players in the real estate sector have in an online platform hosted by the African International Housing Show, expressed suggestions on ways of strengthening housing institutions to perform their roles effectively as expected. This they did, bearing in mind the incoming administration.
The call was centered on whether the next administration should merge housing finance institutions like the Family Homes Funds Limited (FHFL), Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) and Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) as one entity.
Some say providing the necessary support for housing institutions to carry out their roles effectively is preferred to the calls for merger.
The Founder/ Chief Executive Officer of Eximia Realty, Hakeem Ogunniran, tasked the incoming Tinubu-led federal government to avoid rhetoric and make the institutions in the housing sector work optimally, thereby creating efficiency for value delivery.
Ogunniran, who doubles as the Vice Chairman of the board of the Africa International Housing Show, advocated strengthening of the housing institutions and giving them the right level of resources to deliver rather than the proposed merger.
“My position is against a merger. I would rather advocate for strengthening the (housing) institutions and giving them the right level of resources to deliver,” he said.
Considering the huge housing deficit in the country, he canvassed that the Family Homes Funds should be strengthened, while recreating its focus by making it focus a lot more on social housing and subsidized housing.
According to him, the mandate of FHFL should not be mistaken as being the same as that of the NMRC.
“When you talk of funding for housing, you are talking about construction finance and retail finance. A mortgage refinancing institution plays a crucial role in providing liquidity that oils the wheels of progress. That is what NMRC is supposed to be doing.
“I think today, NMRC is struggling because we are not creating enough assets and, when we create these assets, we are not creating mortgages. So, NMRC has nothing to finance.
“We need to step back and understand the roles that these institutions can play in the housing ecosystem in Nigeria if properly regulated and structured; and if their functions are properly delineated and appropriately integrated,” Ogunniran said.
Ogunniran said that FMBN has its unique function, blaming the failure of the country’s mortgage institutions on government, saying the authority failed to do what he called “building to scale.”
Ogunniran urged government to give housing intervention funds to boost investment in housing in order to create more jobs, thereby growing the economy.
He tasked the incoming government on the need to overhaul the system where necessary.
He said “We should strengthen, provide more resources and give mortgage institutions a better orientation.
“We should give them a better focus and make them a lot more accountable.”
Another expert, Fonahanmi Idris, said that merger was not the best option, pointing out that these institutions have distinctive roles, but complimentary.
Former Managing Director and Chief Executive, NMRC, Professor Charles Inyangete, said that functional approach should be preferred to institutional approach.
“In my view a functional approach is preferable to an institutional approach.
*Creating a Behemoth is not in my view a better solution than “making” the institutions that exist to better perform their stated functions.
“By all means, change / reform the way the institutions operate if that is what is required to make them more effective. Governance might be a good starting point and that applies regardless of the approach you choose to adopt,” he said.
Inyangete explained that NMRC remained a private sector-driven company and to turn it into a full government institution would entail rigorous process.
He said “The government will have to buy out all existing private sector shareholders making it a rigorous process for a merger.”
Managing Director/Co-Founder at Alitheia Capital, OlajumokeAkinwunmi, wants the housing institutions to force collaboration and allow the expertise of one works for the other for overall good of the housing sector.
She said “The thinking behind the merging may be because of the way many of the housing institutions operate in silos and cross purposes sometimes and if they are not merged, they must somehow come together under the umbrella of some overriding entity to force collaboration and allow the expertise of one work for the other for the overall good of the housing sector.”
In his opinion, Group Managing Director, COPEN Group, Ugochukwu Chime, said it has become important to unbundle the Ministry of Works and Housing because “they are supposed to act as regulators not enter the pitch with their jersey and boots to be building houses.”