The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, says addressing the issue of access to mortgage financing is the panacea to housing delivery challenge in the country.

Fashola said this at the opening of the Board/Management Retreat of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) on Monday, in Abuja.

The retreat is with the theme: ”Strategy Repositing for Optimised Performance, Organisational Culture Change and Informal Sector Integration’’.

According to him, one of the obstacles of access to housing is the one that impedes access to finance, and this must be removed.

“If we fail to remove this impediment, then we will be failing in the reason for setting up the bank.

“There must be something done to help people pays their rents via their salaries, especially the problem of two-three years rent payment demand by landlords in advance from tenants whose salaries come in arrears,’’ Fashola said.

He, therefore, advised the bank to collaborate with the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation contributors’ fund like other commercial banks do.

Fashola added that this would go a long way to finance the mortgage of contributors since there was nowhere in the world that government does 100 per cent housing financing.

While commending the bank’s board and management for the services rendered such as home refurbishment loans and introduction of the rent to own initiative, he charged them to focus the retreat on better ways to serve the people.

Fashola said that performance and repositioning were key to setting up the bank to provide housing services to the people.

On his part, Mr Ayodeji Gbeleyi, Chairman, Board of Directors, FMBN called for the review of both the FMBN and National Housing Fund (NHF) Acts to incorporate increment in the bank’s share capital.

“Give more flexibility in determining share capital structure in line with emerging realities. There is the case to amend the NHF Act to increase the accretion of contributors to the funds through percentage increase in contributions.

“Source diversification, adoption of initiatives to attract banks and insurance companies and other prospective contributors to participate actively in the NHF scheme.

“The Land Use Act has no specifics provisions for the foreclosure of mortgages and this poses a challenge for investors, as mortgages can take undue advantage of the gap to delay the foreclosure process.

Gbeleyi said to close the gap, states should be encouraged to put in place foreclosure laws through their States Houses of Assembly, adding that only Lagos and Kaduna states had enacted their foreclosure laws.

In his address, Mr Madu Hamman, Managing Director, FMBN said the need to re-focus the direction of the bank was driven by the need to re-align its strategic targets in the light of prevailing economic, financial and social realities.

Also to re-configure the strategy document to incorporate the vision and focus of the bank’s new leadership in implementing Mr President’s mandate for affordable housing delivery to Nigerians especially those in the low and middle income brackets.

“Our collective vision for FMBN in the future is a financially viable and highly adaptive bank capable of adequately coping with the vagrancies of a world transiting, from a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment.

“To a brittle, anxious, non-linear and incomprehensible environment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and other emergence and unfolding factors.

“To this end, the bank’s strategy document must become the tool for managing a constantly shifting environment as well as one for identifying and utilising opportunities that such challenges may present,” he said.

Hamman said FMBN had therefore adapted “to be the preferred mortgage institution providing reliable and affordable access to homeownership for Nigerian’’ as its corporate vision.

He said that this vision was guided by the mission statement“ to drive the delivery of accessible and affordable homeownership by providing sustainable liquidity, innovative products and services and excellent customer service’’.

Also speaking, Mr Ebilate Mac-Yoroki, President, Mortgage Banking Association of Nigeria (MBAN), said it was imperative for FMBN as one of the virile secondary mortgage market institutions to reposition itself to harness its full potential.

Mac-Yoroki said that the bank should taking cognizance of the current economic realities in the country into consideration while trying to reposition.

”A Board /Management retreat such as this will be ideal to challenge the status quo, tackle difficult issues and forge a camaraderie for the overall benefit of the entire sub-sector.

“The five-year strategy blueprint being articulated by the management demonstrates its commitment toward housing financing in Nigeria.

“In view of the critical importance of the housing financing banking sub-sector to national economic development through its linkages with the money and capital markets and its multiplier effects through spending on housing related materials,” he said.

In a paper presented by the Managing Director, Bank of Industry, Mr Olukayode Pitan, on `Institutional Turnaround for the Next Level’ advocated continuity in the management of the banks.

According to him, lack of continuity in the persons that manage the affairs of the banks is a major setback for the growth and development of the bank.

Pitan called on the bank to have a strategy informed ambition with clearly articulated and properly defined steps in order to achieve set goals.

He also advised the bank to go for long term borrowing especially from pension funds and be ready to implement any decision collectively agreed upon.

The Housing Cable reports that some of the highlights include, health talk on `Mental Health Epidemic: The Big Effect of COVID-19 by Dr Olusola Ephraim-Oluwanuga, Consultant Psychiatrist.

She advised people to get professional help when they could not manage stress.

HC also reports that the high point of the event was the official launch of FMBN Corporate Statements by the minister.