BY OMOBA KENNETH AIGBEGBELE
The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) under Arc. Musa Ahmed Dangiwa, has been doing a great job in carrying out its mandate as enshrined in the Act and in a few years from now Nigeria will be counted as one of the nations where the mortgage industry is thriving and growing very fast with the support of the present administration.
Since the coming on board of Arc. Musa Ahmed Dangiwa on April 13, 2017, FMBN has been undergoing drastic and rapid changes in its task to rebrand and reposition the bank for effective service delivery. The Dangiwa-led management has enhanced the Total Quality Management (TQM) of the apex body in building the capacity of staff and enhancing human capacity development so as to make the mortgage body relevant in the global arena. It has consistently sent staff on courses to enhance their skills and has brought about changes in operations including accountability and transparency so as to achieve the overall development goals of the present administration of providing affordable housing for Nigerians.
The management has taken into cognizance the internal and external factors like changes in government policies, inadequate funding, repayment of loans and the reduction of mortgage loans etc and others affecting the mortgage institution and has also gone ahead to proffer proactive solutions and remedy to mitigate housing deficit in the country by the enactment of friendly and proactive policies. Through its various collaborations, the FMBN, under the watchful eyes of the Managing Director, Arc. Ahmed Musa Dangiwa, has steadily marched towards bridging the huge housing deficit in Nigeria. The FMBN is giving contributors to the National Housing Funds reasons for hope as the management is making remarkable improvement in the promotion of innovation housing reforms as a result of the Business Process Automation, whereby technologies are used as an end-to-end business process within the institution, by the adoption of core banking applications, wide area network that includes mobile and Internet solutions that will allow key banking processes to seamless link to primary mortgage banks and customers. The management has also implemented Enterprise Risk Management Framework which is undertaken by Pricewaterhouse Coppers (PwC) and which is due for completion soonest while it has also reduced equity so as to make housing affordable for easy ownership to all including civil servants.
The FMBN is collaborating with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to enlist all corporate organizations to key into the National Housing Fund (NHF) Scheme, towards increasing remittances and collections for NHF, by allowing access to the FIRS database to obtain the comprehensive list of all corporate organizations operating in the country with a view to discovering non-contributing organizations and enforcing compliance with the assistance of relevant government agencies.
This was disclosed by the FMBN Managing Director at a recent courtesy call to the management of FIRS to seek for support while explaining that the FIRS database is required to expand its client base, boost NHF collection, and increase the bank’s liquidity. Arc. Dangiwa said it would enable it provide long term housing finance to Nigerians and he also decried the reluctance of some corporate organizations and state governments to deduct and remit 2.5 per cent of basic salaries of their workers to banks, thus impeding the operations of the bank and NHF scheme.
As part of its strategic partnerships and collaborations, the FMBN has sought from the National Council on Lands, Housing and Urban Development (NCLHUD) commitment to effect the acquiring of land by beneficiaries easier and accessible and to also enact mortgage friendly laws to improve land registry practices. Meanwhile, the bank is also working with government and private institutions, like the CBN, REDAN and the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) to put appropriate measures in place to boost the mortgage industry in the country by encouraging private and corporate organizations to play active roles and be more involved. The management has taken crucial steps to ensure the rendering of all outstanding financial statements since it assumed the mantle of leadership. While, it has also continued to ensure transparency in the NHF with SMS and email alerts like never before, the bank is on the path of economic transformation and total quality management as never seen before.
In advanced economies, the mortgage industry makes significant contributions to economic development; in Nigeria, the story would have been the same, but because of the lack of political will which the Dangiwa-led management is doing everything within its powers to boost the mortgage industry by leveraging on home seekers, encouraging house suppliers to develop more houses at affordable rates. It has also drastically reduced the long period taken to process the NHF refunds. This is intended to ease the time and energy it ordinarily would have taken NHF retirees to initiate and complete the refund processes. As part of its efforts in NHF mortgage loans, management has disbursed billions of naira as NHF mortgage loans to beneficiaries, while home renovation loan disbursement had also been taken into consideration.
The bank’s management under Dangiwa is undoubtedly treading a path of progress especially in its promotion of good corporate governance in its dealings. The management’s determination to ensure accountability, transparency, partnerships and collaborations in the discharge of its core functions and mandate is a sure way to guarantee success in the mortgage industry and also ensure the provision of affordable housing for retirees.
Nevertheless, it has also captured both the formal and informal sectors, now salaried and non-salaried can also be assured of access to affordable housing products of the bank and as soon as the FMBN finally accesses the N500 billion recapitalization, more mortgage facilities can be easily made available to Nigerians through the institution.
The World Bank estimated that Nigeria has a housing deficit of about 17 million units and the FMBN has designed the NHF to mobilize funds to provide the citizens with affordable residential houses through accredited PMBS at the rate of six per cent, the lowest in the country. Despite the modest achievements so far recorded, the FMBN is facing a couple of operational challenges over the years, like the instability of government policies, shortage of funds for PMBs, escalating cost of building materials, unstable market forces and the cost of funds and infrastructure which made the quest for decent affordable accommodation to be high. It has also taken thoughtful and incisive steps to re-integrate defaulting states like Niger, Bauchi, Kebbi, Lagos, Kano, Ondo, Edo and Oyo into the NHF scheme in order to improve its performance indices, but these are not without attendant challenges. For according to Arc, Dangiwa “We are currently reaching out to these states to see if we can bring them back on board to the NHF scheme. Mostly, we always tell them the advantages of joining the scheme because of the numerous products they can access and enjoy.”
The mortgage industry has all the economic indices to stimulate the economy, but for it to do that all the obstacles to its growth have to be tackled. The relative “newness” of the industry, lack of understanding of its dynamics and operational models by many Nigerians and poor appreciation of the need and the ultimate benefit of keeping money in a mortgage bank are some of the militating factors in spite of the numerous awareness campaign and sensitization by the Dangiwa-led management on the importance of this sector to the growth of the economy. The paradigm shift from the old order of doing things to the new order brought by the dynamic bureaucracy of Dangiwa leadership style, Nigeria is on the path to mortgage recovery. As plans are ahead to stimulate the economy by a reduction in the interest rate on mortgage loan so that more people will embrace mortgage loan to buy houses, leading to increased activities in the mortgage sector. The present leadership is also paying attention to PMBs by removing some of the obstacles such as the drawbacks of the Land Use Act of 1978, which essentially vests land ownership in the hands of the state governors; the right to easily foreclose on delinquent borrowers, the ease of creating legal mortgage and perfection titles, bad loans including the enactment of a new bill that seeks the establishment of the Institute of Mortgage Brokers and Leaders of Nigeria (IMBLN) for better regulation of the industry to provide regulatory policy framework, eliminate fraudsters, remove speculators and entrench sanity and decency in the industry.
Given the size of Nigeria as a mortgage market, the industry needs more established and well-funded PMBs that can guarantee homeownership for a good number of people, which is the main goal of FMBN to advance homeownership among Nigerians by creating mortgage markets with a sustainable financing systems. “Our vision is to reposition the bank as a foremost apex mortgage institution in the country and provide affordable financing for contribution to be achieved through improved and transparent operations. All of these are achievable with the cooperation and collaborations of stakeholders. This is our primary aim and focus according to Dangiwa”
This new initiative and vigour of the helmsman at FMBN has attracted the attention and support of the National Assembly, stakeholders and the Federal Government as a veritable institution to safeguard and regulate the mortgage industry and it is on record that the institution has witnessed tremendous turn-around in the handling of its affairs, welfare, institutional capacity building and human capital development which can be compared to international best practices and in line with the present administrations ‘change’ agenda of a new Social Housing Programme that is part of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
Omoba Kenneth Aigbegbele is of Citizens Watch Nigeria (CWN) and President, COCMEGG.