The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) has delivered record-breaking achievements in the seven years of the Buhari administration. Across all corporate indicators the Bank has from 2015 to date surpassed all previous performance records.
This includes mobilization of funds to the National Housing Fund (NHF) Scheme, disbursement of mortgage loans and housing construction finance. Start with the historic optimization of the National Housing Fund (NHF) Scheme as a source of long-term low-cost finance to power delivery of affordable housing to Nigerians.
Under the direction of President Muhammadu Buhari and the supervision of the Hon. Minister of Works and Housing Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, FMBN within the period pooled over N279billion in additional inflows to the NHF Scheme at an annual average of about N68billion. As of 2015, when the Buhari administration came on board, less than N230Billion had accrued to the NHF Scheme over a 23-year period (at about N10billion per annum).
The mobilization of over N279billion in additional funding to the NHF Scheme in just seven years of the Buhari administration is remarkable and represents over 100 percent increase over the N230billion that had accrued to the scheme from its inception in 1992.
FMBN was able to accomplish this feat by ensuring transparency and accountability in the management of the NHF scheme, engaging state governments to resume contributions and building strategic partnerships with labor centers such as the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA).
The Bank also drove an aggressive campaign that saw historic participation of the informal sector, the self-employed and cooperative societies in the NHF scheme. Overall, these efforts helped to increase the number of subscribers to the NHF scheme from 4,539,084 to 5,466,092 an addition of about 927,008 subscribers.
On the back of the increased inflows into the NHF Scheme, which serves as FMBN’s financial backbone, the Bank significantly increased the scale of its affordable housing drive between 2015 to date. Specifically, FMBN disbursed over N231.3billion in affordable housing loans across its product windows. The quantum of this liquidity injection into the supply and demand segments of the Nigerian mortgage market is unrivalled in the Bank’s over 35-year history.
To stimulate supply and availability of affordable housing stock, FMBN partnered reputable property developers and deployed over N135.8billion for the construction of over 16,684 affordable homes under the estate development, ministerial pilot housing scheme, cooperative housing development and the FMBN Mega City project intervention windows.
A combination of factors including understanding of the income profiles of NHF subscribers, smart housing design, the pruning down of developers’ profit motive through extensive reviews of bills of quantities and prioritization of affordability, enabled FMBN to deliver one, two and three bedrooms at prices ranging from N4M to N8M.
On the housing demand side, FMBN deployed N144.4billion. This includes disbursement of N71.7billion in NHF mortgage loans to over 10,000 Nigerians and N72.7billion in home renovation loans to 89,223 beneficiaries.
Remarkably, the total loan disbursement of N231.3 billion between 2015 – 2022 represents over 70% of total loan portfolio of N297 billion advanced by the Bank since commencement of the NHF Scheme 30 years ago. This translates to an annual average of N33 billion (or more than 600% increase) during the Buhari years compared to an annual average of just N6 billion in previous years!
Refund of NHF Contributions to Retirees
The Buhari years also witnessed a radical departure from the perennial problem of delayed refund of NHF contributions to retirees. In the last seven years FMBN recorded over N46.8 billion as pay-out of NHF contributions to 309,000 retired contributors.
This accounts for about 80% of the cumulative N52.9billion refunded to 390,441 retirees since the scheme was established in 1992. The significant improvement in the rate of NHF refund arose from the review of the Bank’s internal processes and Management’s commitment for improved efficiency in service delivery to Nigerian workers who are its customers.
Easing Access and Affordability for FMBN Loan Products
The Buhari years also witnessed an unprecedented drive to make FMBN housing products more affordable to the low- and medium-income earners that constitute the majority of contributors to the NHF scheme.
Notably, FMBN effected a markedly downward review of equity requirements for accessing FMBN housing loans. Effective 2018 NHF mortgage loans of N5million and under attract zero (0%) equity contribution, a downward review from the 10% previously required as loan down payment. Also, mortgage loans of over N5million to the maximum amount of N15million require a flat equity contribution rate of 10%, down from the 20% and 30% previously required as a pre-condition for FMBN home loans.
This implies that workers who contribute to the National Housing Fund (NHF) are eligible to access 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% as equity.
Additionally, FMBN created several innovative products to ensure that more Nigerians can benefit from FMBN. A notable example is the introduction of the ‘Rent-to-Own’ Homeownership Scheme. The scheme offers an easy and convenient payment arrangement towards homeownership for Nigerian workers.
Under the product, a Nigerian worker is able to move into an FMBN-funded housing property as a tenant and conveniently pay towards ownership of the property in monthly or annual installments over as long as 30 years at an interest rate of just 7%. Another is the individual Home Construction Loan. The construction loan provides up to N15million at a 7 percent interest rate to NHF contributors who wish to undertake self-construction.
The housing loan targets NHF contributors with unencumbered land, appropriate titles, and approved building plans. Beneficiaries can pay back over 30-years depending on their age and number of years left in service.
FMBN also developed the Diaspora Mortgage Loan to deepen the Bank’s resource base and improve the country’s foreign reserve capacity, while helping Nigerians in diaspora to become homeowners in the country.
Additionally, the Bank also recently approved the implementation of Interest free Rent-to-Own (Ethical RTO) scheme to cater for the needs of many Nigerians yearning for non-interest products.
Digitization of FMBN Business Operations
The period 2015 – 2022 also recorded the most concerted and pragmatic steps to digitize the operations of the nation’s apex mortgage institution for faster and more efficient service delivery.
Noteworthy is the federal government’s approval for the purchase and implementation of a modern Core Banking Software for the Bank. The deployment of the digital platform is at advanced stages and there are plans to have it go live sometime in August 2022. Once completed, it would eliminate manual processes, ensure faster home loan applications, quicker NHF refund treatment, and improve overall operational efficiency at the bank.
As part of the FMBN digitization process, FMBN launched FMBN Digital Platforms that are already operational. The platforms have ushered in a new era of transparency and accountability in the operations of the National Housing Fund (NHF) by empowering contributors with real-time access to information on their NHF accounts. Key components include the *219# USSD Short Code service via GSM Mobile networks, the NHF Mobile Apps available on android & iOS platforms, the online Self-Service Kiosk via the Bank’s web portal (www.fmbn.gov.ng/nhfmobile) and SMS and email notification services to NHF customers.
The suite of digital services enable contributors to receive instant notifications 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.
The greater transparency, clearer disclosure and convenient access to records of contributions from the comfort of homes and offices or while on the go via personal computers or mobile phones, which the platforms engender, has boosted subscriber and stakeholder confidence in the NHF scheme.
Implementation of the National Affordable Housing Delivery Programme for Nigerian Workers
FMBN also recorded historic efforts aimed at strengthening stakeholder participation and confidence in the operations of the National Housing Fund (NHF).
The Bank partnered the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) Trade Union (TUC) and the Nigeria’s Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) on the National Affordable Housing Delivery Programme for Nigerian Workers with the objective of a structured and sustainable approach to affordable housing delivery for Nigerian workers nationwide.
About 1,400 housing units are ready for commissioning in twelve (12) sites across the six geopolitical zones of the country in addition to Lagos and Abuja, in batches of a minimum of 200 units per zone. The second phase has also commenced and is planned to deliver about 2,160 houses in another fourteen (14) locations. House types include finished semi-detached bungalows as well as 1-, 2- and 3-bedrooms in blocks of flats.
Furthermore, in recognition of the need to chart a reliable path for effective repositioning of the Bank, FMBN during the Buhari years developed a 5-year Strategy Plan in collaboration with Messrs. KPMG. The Strategy document initially expected to run from 2020 – 2024 is currently under review. The plan aims to deliver 100,000 housing units, grow NHF annual collections from N50 billion to over N300 billion, expand the NHF customer base by 25 million new contributors drawn mostly from the informal sector to 31m.
While the housing deficit remains a huge issue that requires trillions of naira to fix, within the context of the financial resources available to FMBN, the Buhari Years (2015- 2022) represent a period of unprecedented transformation, high-performance and impact at the FMBN.
The Bank’s historic strides found direction under the Buhari Administration’s broad agenda, which is in tangent with its corporate mandate to advance affordable home ownership through the supply of sustainable long-term liquidity to the Nigerian mortgage market; promote a viable primary and mortgage market and the management of the National Housing Fund (NHF).
The stellar results and increased impact of the Bank are helping to change the longstanding narrative from negative to better corporate performance, improved transparency, greater efficiency, and service improvement.
As the Buhari administration’s second term enters its final year, FMBN under the competent leadership of Hamman Madu leadership, an industry professional with a record of leading transformation, remains poised to sustain the momentum of reform, high performance, and impact with the objective of driving delivery of affordable housing and promoting the development of a more vibrant mortgage finance market in the country.
* M. Terhemen, a housing policy analyst based in Abuja, wrote in email@example.com
While the housing deficit remains a huge issue that requires trillions of naira to fix, within the context of the financial resources available to FMBN, the Buhari Years (2015- 2022) represent a period of unprecedented transformation, high-performance and impact at the FMBN