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OPINION

FMBN and accessible housing fund

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By Abimbola Johnson-Idemeto

 

When Ahmed Dangiwa, an architect, took over as Managing Director/Chief Executive of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria(FMBN) a year ago, his main focus was to ensure some of the objectives of the National Housing Fund(NHF) achieved within the shortest possible time. Some of these objectives are: to mobilize funds for the provision of affordable housing in Nigeria; supply loans for building, purchasing and improving residential housing; incentivize capital market investments in property development and provide long-term loans to mortgage institutions for on-lending to contributors to the Fund.

And on the anniversary of his one year in office, the House of Representatives gave him a huge present. The house asked the Federal Government to recapitalize the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria to the tune of N500bn. It said this was necessary to make the bank more vibrant and responsive to its functions for effective housing delivery in the country.The bank currently has a capital base of N5billion.

This recommendation followed the work of the house committee on housing investigated the non-compliance with the National Housing Fund Act and the inability of the government to deliver housing to the citizenry.

The committee, which is chaired by a member of the All Progressives Congress from Katsina State, Mr. Ahmed Baba-Kaita, had observed that a major shortcoming was the failure of contributors to the Fund, including the Central Bank of Nigeria, commercial banks and insurance firms, to perform their duties.

The committee recommended that such contributors should be compelled to provide funds for the NHF as provided in the Act. The committee also recommended that the FMBN be given necessary government support in areas like guarantee, recapitalization and allocations to empower the bank for maximum productivity.

There are several bills before the National Assembly seeking to reposition the FMBN and the mortgage industry in the country, which have been starved of necessary funding over the years. The house committee on housing organized a public hearing last year to get stakeholders’ input into the bills. The public hearing was well attended largely due to the sensitization and mobilization done by the management of FMBN.

During the hearing on a bill for an act to establish the Institute of Mortgage Brokers and lenders of Nigeria (IMBLN) and a bill for an act to repeal the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria Act, Cap F16, 2004, stakeholders in the mortgage industry called for the repeal of the existing Act establishing FMBN to give room for its comprehensive re-establishment and strengthening of its board.

They made strident calls for the recapitalisation of the FMBN from the current N5 billion to at least N1 and the inclusion of the critical stakeholders who are contributing to the National Housing Fund as members of the board.

They also sought for the establishment of the regulation of the sector’s activities to instill professionalism. The stakeholders maintained that the establishment of regulatory institute in the mortgage industry will help to instill professionalism, eliminate fraudsters, remove speculators, provide regulatory framework, entrench sanity and decency, provide training programmes for practitioners in the sector, among others.

On the repeal of existing FMBN Act and the re-enactment of an Act re-establishing and strengthening the management and board of the bank, they stressed that it will embolden the bank to carry out its functions unimpeded.

They specifically called for the recapitalisation of the FMBN from the current N5 billion to at least N1 and the inclusion of the critical stakeholders who are contributing to the National Housing Fund as members of the board.

These have also been the position of Dangiwa when it comes to taking the mortgage sector to the next level. He was in the vanguard of those calling for the establishment of Institute of Mortgage Brokers and Lenders of Nigeria to  provide standards and professionalize the estate business.

Apart from supporting the repeal of the FMBN Act , he also proposed that the share capital of the bank should be increased to N500 billion to improve its liquidity. Lack of liquidity had prevented the bank from performing its role as the apex mortgage bank in the country. Contributors to the NHF  have complained of inability to access housing loans, and this is because deductions from the fund are not remitted as and when due by the relevant institutions.

But since coming on board, the Dangiwa led management had made several initiatives to grow the customer base of the bank to improve its liquidity.The objective is to expand its coverage to capture the potential 50 million-market sizes and contribute significantly to the target of creating one million new mortgages on an annual basis, while maintaining the single-digit interest rate.

It is also targeting the market below the lower medium income bracket; increase mortgage sector contribution to national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), meet the changing mortgage landscape and remain relevant in the face of other mortgage financing developments in the Nigerian Housing Sector.

It is the hope of the current management of the bank that FMBN would become wholly owned by the Federal Government instead of the current arrangement which makes the CBN and the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund shareholders of the bank. It is inexplicable how regulators in an industry could also be owners of an institution they’re supposed to regulate.

When the National Assembly eventually passes the Bill re-establishing FMBN, it will not only enhance its liquidity, but will remove unnecessary interventions from the Ministry of Finance and eliminate incident of having another agency carrying out the function of the FMBN or managing the National Housing Fund. This will no doubt eliminate the administrative bottlenecks that have hindered the efficiency of the fund.

It is a credit to the professionalism and commitment of the management of FMBN that it is able to rally stakeholders towards finding common solutions to the myriad of problems confronting the housing sector. It is almost unbelievable that stakeholders such the Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria, Council of Registered Builders, Nigeria Institute of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Federal Government Staff Housing Board, Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria, among others, would spearhead a common cause to salvage the housing sector.

 

Johnson-Idemeto wrote in from Abuja

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OPINION

Ambode at 55: Lowers his voice, raises his logic, By Idowu Ajanaku

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Good leaders are trailblazers, making a path for others to follow” –Forbes.com

As global attention is riveted on the unfolding spectacle of the 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup in Russia today, there are interesting parallels to draw with a goal-getting Nigerian, whose illustrious life trajectory clocks 55 years on this same day. Much like the world-acclaimed beautiful game, which few observers gave a chance to survive, talk less of exploding when it began back in England in 1863, Lagos State Governor Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode was the little known aspirant when political pundits began to permutate on the likely successor to erstwhile Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola then in 2014.

But the leadership narrative has since changed, as Lagos state has become a reference point to Nigerians, nay Africans within the political power context. In a similar compelling, centripetal attraction that soccer enjoys amongst people of diverse races and religion, social strata  and even political persuasion, the question on virtually everyone’s lip is what magic wand has Ambode waved to turn Lagos into an emerging smart city? That is, within a short span of three years in the saddle of the world’s fastest growing city and Africa’s fifth largest economy. The questions persist.

However, to be on the good side of history and more significantly to become better by the day, let us attempt answers from Ambode’s life experiences. Especially, those that have stood him in good stead. Just like football, with its thrills and frills and its team- game format there are rules to obey. We can only win life’s daily matches if we, like Ambode have the focus, the desire, the determination to excel no matter who would tackle us when we eventually have the ball.

 For instance, the early death of his father was one of such challenges. However, instead of capitulating, he took it as a stepping stone to climb to greater heights by sacrificing his time and talents to concentrate on his studies. That he emerged the second-best student in the West African Examination Council(WAEC)   O\L examinations at the end of his secondary school days is a testament to such iron-will determination to succeed against the odds, as John Harold Johnson(now  late) of Ebony Magazine fame  once admonished.

Secondly, Ambode was one young man who was written off by his uncle, at the age of 11 years, especially when he expressed his desire to becoming an accountant. The older man thought he did not possess the DNA to ever qualify as one. But the story has since changed its tempo and tenor.  By 2015 when  Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode became  the APC flag-bearer of the state, he had already metamorphosed into a  thoroughbred, tested and trusted technocrat.  He was the former Accountant –General, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance and Auditor-General who has traversed several of the local government councils in the state.

Another salient, vital feature of successful leadership, as exemplified by Ambode is to be fully prepared for the onerous tasks at hand. Based on his wealth of experience he knew the needs and nuances of the state like the lines on his palms. So, he hit the ground running.

Little wonder that within six months in office his forward-looking administration, achieved all these and more.  Specifically, in the health sector, the governor commissioned 20 Mobile Intensive Care Units (MICU) and 26 Transport Ambulances one for each of the 26 General hospitals.  He ensured that ambulances were bought for all the public hospitals in the state,  paid the aggrieved medical doctors their outstanding  salaries and the  long-suffering pensioners.

 Similarly, Ambode approved the recruitment of more paramedic staff and  special medical coordinators to guarantee 24 hours service.  Besides, he  upgraded the General Hospitals and constructed a Medical  Park fully equipped  with quality drugs and new mobile X-Ray machines. He similarly lent helping hand to victims of disasters including motor-accidents, fire outbreaks as well as mudslide in addition to diffusing governance to those at the lower rung of the Lagos  society.

 Making a wise choice, he began by beefing up security across the state. This he did by acquiring 10 armoured tanks, three helicopters for aerial surveillance and policing, two gun boats, 15 armoured personnel carriers and dozens of Isuzu trucks.  Still on security, he initiated the Light Up Lagos Project covering at least 365 streets across the state.

On the massive infrastructural development, Ambode has turned Lagos into a vast construction site, as people are currently awed by the 10-lane Airport Road and the Oshodi Interchange edifice. Indeed, Lagos now boasts of state-of-the art flyover bridges at Ajah and Abule-Egba with that of the popular Pen-Cinema in the works.

   Also, in less than one year in office some 282 inner roads received massive rehabilitation, as requested by the people during his tour of the LCDAs before  his election. In fact, his ‘114 Roads’ project where each of the 57 local councils in the state got two good roads was completed by May, 2016.

Economic empowerment was next. It received a boost in December of that year as he began the disbursement of the N25 billion Employment Trust Fund,(ETF) to carpenters, tailors, hairdressers, vulcanizers and other players in the informal sector in the state. The initiative will see the disbursement of N6.25 billion annually over the next four years. It was also one of the promises he made during his campaign in 2015.

The food security issue was kick started with the launch of the Lagos-Kebbi (LaKe Rice) in December 2016.  It came at the right time as thousands of residents trooped out to various centres across the three senatorial districts to buy the commodity which sold for N12,000 (50kg bag); N6,000 (25kg); and N2,500 (10kg). It was a much needed respite for a population that had been reeling under the impact of economic recession. The smiles widen as Lagos is getting ready to commission one of Africa’s largest rice mills months from now.

Barely over two years in office the state had raked in N287 billion in IGR, a whopping N19 billion more than was generated the year before. A revamp of the state’s revenue generation agency played a major role in this feat, but Mr. Ambode also gave credit to tax-paying citizens in the state.

It is a similar swan song from education through agriculture, to transportation and tourism. One great lesson for millions to learn from the governor’s success story  therefore, is for one to be blessed with a strong God-fearing  family. Both he and Bolanle, his woman of virtue have their lives firmly rooted in God. She is there as a pillar of support and as one who has stood by him through thick and thin. Besides, is their humility and tracing every success to the throne of God.

 Said he, at a recent Sunday Service to mark his three years in office: “No matter how much strategy that you have read in school or how much work you have done in the public service, …if it is working back- to -back and consistently, there has to be some other source that is making it work because you are just one out of several others. Why it works for Lagos is the more reason why one has to be very sober and humble, to actually know that there is something that is making that to happen and that has to be God”.

If, for the first time in the history of Lagos state and indeed Nigeria no other politician has come forward to challenge Gov. Ambode, nine  good  months to the 2019 gubernatorial election , it must be God. That explains why he is being celebrated nationally and globally, like a World Cup winning goal!

Many happy returns, my dear, iconic boss.

-Ajanaku is the Special Adviser, Information and Strategy to the governor.

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OPINION

GTBank and Innoson’s day at the Supreme Court; how it went down, By Festus Igbinosa

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The long running case between Guaranty Trust Bank and Innoson finally had its day in the Supreme Court, and although there have been some wild tales on what transpired, here is the factual story of how it went down.

Even before the doors of the Supreme Court had shut for the day, what was meant to be a simple directive by the Apex Court on the case between Guaranty Trust Bank and Innoson had been turned on its head, with false versions of the Court’s directives spread online and across social media.

It began with the claim, contained in Press Release circulated by Innoson, that the Supreme Court had ordered “GTB to Pay Innoson’s N14Billion Judgment Debt into an Interest Yielding Account.” The records of the Apex court show no such thing, instead it asked both parties to return to the Court of Appeal, Enugu Judicial Division, for a hearing on GTB’s appeal scheduled for the 14th of June, 2018.

GTB has also released a statement on the actual events of the day at the Supreme Court. “The attention of GTBank has been drawn to false, mischievous and malicious statements circulating in the news and social media in respect of a purported directive by the Supreme Court of Nigeria to the Bank to make payments to one of its debtor Customers,” the Bank said in an official statement. “There was no directive or Order issued by the Supreme Court of Nigeria to the Bank to make any payment to any of its debtor Customers. We again reiterate that there is no iota of truth in the falsehood being peddled by desperate and mischievous elements and the General Public should disregard same in its entirety,” the Bank added.

In fact, the Supreme Court simply directed GTB and Innoson to return to the Court of Appeal for a hearing of the Bank’s substantive appeal on the matter. It is actually in the tradition of the apex court to issue definitive rulings only on Fridays, and what it delivered today was more or less a directive. However, court feelers say this is actually a win for GTB as it grants what the Bank has always wanted—and what Innoson has consistently stalled, which is for the Court of Appeal in Enugu to hear the Bank’s appeal.

The Bank’s appeal of a 2013 High Court judgment gotten by Innoson had stalled at the Court of Appeal for the past two years due to the pending motions filed by both parties at the Supreme Court. On Thursday, 7th of June, 2018 the Apex Court finally sat on the matter and asked both parties to withdraw their motions and return to the Court of Appeal, because GTB’s appeal at the lower court had not been heard.

“The implication [of the Supreme Court Directive] is that both parties are going back to the court of appeal for the Bank’s substantive appeal to be heard,” a source in one of the legal teams of the parties said. “The court said it won’t hear any applications and asked all parties to withdraw their applications.” One of the applications that was withdrawn and struck out by the Supreme Court is the plea filed by Innoson on 27th of February, 2015 askingfor the court to order GTB to issue a money guarantee to the court. This is interesting because it means that, rather than rule for the Bank to pay Innoson 14bn as the latter had claimed, the apex court struck out that particular request.

 

Back to the Appeal Court

Following the directive by the Supreme Court, the substantive appeal filed by GTB will now be heard at the Court of Appeal, Enugu Judicial Division, on the 14th of June, 2018.This appeal has been repeatedly delayed by the Innoson camp using moves such as itsmotion filed by on October 3, 2017to prevent the appeal from being heard. Back then, the Court of Appeal had expressed surprise that Innoson (the Judgment Creditor) is not desirous of allowing the appeal to proceed.

Again, in the proceedings of 24th October 2017 in CA/E/275/2015 between same parties, the same Prof. Mbadugha appearing for Innoson and other Respondents had scuttled proceedings when he refused to proceed with Appeal even though it was clear that the Appeal was ripe for hearing and opted to pay costs. Prof Mbadugha said to the courts: “I ask for an adjournment even though all motions have been taken… I offer N50,000.00. The Appeal Court responded; “This application for adj. has no basis, but in the interest of justice it is hereby granted. The appeal is ripe for hearing. Cost of N100,000.00 to the Appellant against the Respondents. Appeal adjourned to 17/4/18 for hearing.”

However, following today’s hearing at the Supreme Court, it seems all hurdles have been cleared for GTB’s substantive appeal to be heard by the Court of Appeal.

 

Festus Igbinosa is a financial analyst and he writes from Abuja

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OPINION

Uduaghan: The man gearing for Niger Delta development

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By Julius Akpovire Enyeh

There are politicians and there are politicians. In Delta State, they also abound in different shades and characters, so much so that if awards were to be doled out today, there would be a lot of pretenders amongst them as far as the development of the Big Heart State is concerned. Inversely, a few contenders would line up for the awards based on their selfless contributions which have made the state worthy of being counted among the ‘big’ states.

The immediate-past governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, is arguably one of the most successful politicians the Niger Delta have produced in recent times. His influence and popularity were not earned through a walk in the park, rather by the dint of his determination to make his people happy. His story is a very loaded one, his development efforts also extended to the Niger Delta region even though he was the governor of a state. He was deeply involved in negotiations with Niger Delta agitators and militants alike which let to peace in the region. Of course, where there is peace, there is development.

If one counts every infrastructure dotted all over the state, a greater percentage of them would definitely bear his finger of approval.

That is the lot of a man who was trusted enough by the former governor of the state, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, a big fish in all ramifications, to wear his big shoes as the governor of the state after the former had governed for eight years.

A medical doctor by profession, Dr. Uduaghan set the sail of healthcare revolution in the state when he took over. Deltans will not forget Uduaghan in a hurry for instituting a special project to finance medical assistance to them. To date, the sum of N1.4 billion has been expended on the project and it has been worth the while.

He also embarked on health programmes as the Free Under-Five health programme where all the children within the age bracket of 0-5years were taken care of irrespective of the ailment. The Free Maternal Health programme which enabled government hospitals attend to pregnant and expectant mothers from conception to the period of delivery free of charge remains in their memory till date. It was once reported that the antenatal care unit of each hospital was recording up to 200 to 400 attendants on daily basis. The hospitals were made to handle serious advocacy issues on care during pregnancy aimed at reducing maternal and infant mortality.

On the Free Rural Health Scheme programme, the government of Delta State under Uduaghan attended to the rural people in all parts of the state, treating various health needs of the people irrespective of the nature of the ailment free of charge. The scheme cut across all ages and sexes as issues bordering on fibroid, hyenia, partial blindness and other sundry health challenges were tackled by health care professionals.

This magnanimous gesture of his government brought succour to people who ordinarily would not have been able to access the needed medical attention.

If Uduaghan did well in health care delivery, he scored higher in the educational sector.  Aside from ensuring the fees of all students sitting for the secondary school final examinations were paid full, a policy he underpinned by the observation that some students even after going through the free school programme, were unable to pay the fees required before they could sit for NECO and WASC examinations, he blazed the trail with the state government’s First Class Scholarship Scheme under which indigenes of the state, paternally or maternally, who made first class in any university were offered an annual N5 million scholarship to study for higher degrees up to PhD anywhere in the world. In four years, his government provided scholarships to 1,760 students in different categories. His government also approved scholarship for 792 students in all the categories and inaugurated the Delta Education Marshall (Edu Marshall) to eradicate ‘street culture’ and pave way for ‘learning culture’

Fully aware of his target in the education sector Uduaghan had said the huge investment in education had a lot to do with the ‘Delta Beyond Oil’ initiative of his administration. For anything to succeed, he had said, the bedrock is education, and one cannot be talking about ‘Delta Beyond Oil’ the populace was not educated.  Under Uduaghan, primary and secondary schools witnessed a new lease of life in the state with the construction or rehabilitation of over 200 primary and secondary schools.

There is no argument that Dr. Uduaghan achieved so much in the area of infrastructure, housing scheme, roads construction, street lights and provision of modern transport facilities and hospitals, a phenomenon which has made Delta catapult into an enviable state.

What has, however baffled a lot of political watchers within the country and beyond, was why an achiever like Dr. Uduaghan went into hibernation after serving out a meritorious gubernatorial period despite pressure from his people when a lot of his under-achieving colleagues found themselves in the chambers of the National Assembly Complex, Abuja. When he addressed pressmen recently, the Itsekiri-born politician answered the question. He had said he took that option in the interest of peace in the state.

boasts of equally great minds like the ex-governor, one which is the incumbent senator who has represented the senatorial district through four terms of four years each.

By 2019, the senator, James Manager would have served a total of 16 years in the house. In 2015, when he indicated his intention to return to the senate, the ex-governor had rested his ambition to pave way for Mr. Manager to continue. Now, the pressure has again mounted on Dr. Uduaghan to gun for the senatorial seat and he has said he is ready. Surprisingly, support has poured in from the whole Delta South and beyond.

According to Dr. Uduaghan, his senatorial ambition was born out of his desire to pursue quality legislation that will lead to the end of crisis and development in the Niger Delta region.

In his words: “I’m not going to the Senate because am Itsekiri. My aspiration is not ethnic but knowledge and capacity based.”

“We need to look at laws that’ll improve income accruing to oil-bearing communities. There should be a law that compels every company operating in the Niger Delta region to contribute a percentage to the host communities. This is done in Arizona and the Netherlands. Ours, here, should not be an exception.”

“And to ensure a near absolute peace and security in the Niger Delta, local youths should be engaged to assist security men in intelligence gathering; through this, we’ll be able to reduce a lot of criminal activities in the creeks.” Uduaghan noted.

As the 2019 elections draw closer and closer, all eyes are on the man with excellent track records who thinks, sleeps and wakes up with the peace and development of the Niger Delta in his mind.

 

-Julius Akpovire Enyeh, Delta-born journalist writes from Lagos, Nigeria. Email: mailjuliusenyeh@gmail.com

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