The Senate Committee on Lands, Housing and Urban Development and House Committee on Housing and Habitat have resolved to throw their weight behind the management of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) in its efforts to provide Nigerians with affordable housing.
The Committees expressed this position during an oversight visit to the FMBN on Tuesday, December 19, 2023, presided over by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Senator Aminu Tambuwal. The visit presented a forum to familiarise with the activities of the bank and identify ways of supporting FMBN in its mandate of providing affordable housing for all Nigerians.
Senator Tambuwal affirmed the pleasure of the lawmakers in carrying out what he described as “a constitutional calling” of the National Assembly. He revealed that the two committees will work together, drawing on the inputs from the visit, to conclude on the 2024 budget.
“We are in the process of considering the 2024 budget estimates submitted by President Bola Tinubu and are aware of the provision of mortgage funding of 80 billion in the budget. We believe that working with you, we will get to understand how better to apply the funds, ensuring that these provisions by the President and Executive are fully utilised for the common good of Nigerians,” he said.
Delivering a brief on the key performance of FMBN in the management of the National Housing Fund (NHF) since inception, the Managing Director and Chief Executive, Madu Hamman, outlined the achievements of the bank, noting that it has recorded milestone successes in the area of projects recovery and automation of business processes.
Madu explained that the FMBN has completed the Oracle 12C database software solution, launched DigitALL for transparency and accountability, and is at the verge of completing the CORE Banking Platform for operational efficiency and effectiveness. All these projects, he noted, are targeted at improving service delivery in the area of housing to Nigerians.
The Managing Director further elaborated on FMBN’s progress towards improving turnaround time by reducing the NHF refund process from an average of 6-12 months to within the mandatory period of 90 days. The bank also recorded remarkable improvement in NHF compliance by states, with the exception of Oyo, Imo and Bauchi States. He noted that the bank is currently engaging with the Governments of the three states to resume compliance.
Another area of focus of the presentation was the operational performance of the bank and its loan performance from inception in 1992 to November 2023, indicating a track record of continuous growth, notwithstanding the current challenges confronting the bank.
He explained that “the Bank’s current capital base of N5 billion was approved in 2001 with the Federal Government, the Central Bank and Nigeria Social Investment Trust Fund (NSITF) as shareholders.” He however noted that only the Federal Government has fully subscribed its share of N2.5 billion while the CBN paid N60 million out of the alloted 30 percent (N1.5 billion). “The NSITF is yet to redeem any portion of its 20 percent shareholding of N1 billion,” he disclosed.
The Managing Director further cited the challenges of reviewing the legal framework guiding the operations of the bank, noting that existing laws do not reflect current realities and therefore stall the bank’s operations. He stated that it is in the efforts to address the challenge of operationalising the Land Use Act that the Honourable Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Arc. Ahmed Musa Dangiwa, is working towards establishing the National Land Commission.
Mr. Madu therefore sought for an increase in the current capital base of the bank to the minimum of N500 billion and appealed for accelerated action in the review of the FMBN, NHF and Land Use Acts.
Also speaking, Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Senator Victor Umeh, recommended exploring the possibility of engaging the CBN to redeem its outstanding payment of the shareholding allotment. He also asked the FMBN Managing Director to spell out areas of the Land Use Act that need to be reviewed to enable the Committee swing into immediate action.
In his remarks, Chairman, House Committee on Housing and Habitat, Hon. Aminu Balele, appreciated the Managing Director of FMBN for the explicit presentation, acknowledging that the National Assembly is aware of the challenges facing the bank.
Balele expressed the decision of the National Assembly committees to work together to address the issue of recapitalisation and the review of the laws guiding the bank’s operations. He re-echoed Senator Tambuwal’s words that the committees will work hand in hand with the various sub-committees to address the identified issues