Richard Imhoagene

Nigeria is plagued with an overwhelming housing crisis, characterised by a deficit that experts estimate to be at about  28 million. While the figure may be contentious, the scope and magnitude of the housing deficit in the country are not in doubt. However, with grossly inadequate housing allocations, rising inflation, low-income levels, and the high cost of construction, stakeholders in the housing sector have long called for innovative approaches and collaborations to bridge the housing gap and create a prosperous housing ecosystem.

Thankfully, the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has shown commitment to addressing the plight of Nigerians, as far as housing is concerned. Demerging the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and creating a full-fledged Ministry for Housing and Urban Development was an instructive move.

Even more notable is the appointment of a thorough-bred professional in the built environment to lead the ministry. With the Renewed Hope Agenda, President Tinubu is prioritising affordable housing, with the aim to improve the living conditions and overall well-being of Nigerians, while stimulating economic growth and creating employment opportunities. This proactive approach to tackling the housing crisis holds the potential to positively impact millions of Nigerians and shape a more sustainable future.

The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, as Nigeria’s apex Mortgage institution, has been at the forefront of providing affordable and convenient homeownership solutions to Nigerians, especially those in the low-and-middle-income levels. These include loan and mortgage products made available to Nigerians who are contributors to the National Housing Fund (NHF) scheme, and must have done so for a period of at least six months.

From the NHF Mortgage Loan, to Rent-to-Own, Individual Construction Loan, and even the Cooperative Housing Loan, among others, homeownership is increasingly becoming accessible to many more Nigerians.

Needless to say, the housing mandate covers the provision of decent and affordable housing to all Nigerians, regardless of income, socio-economic background, and even residence. What this suggests is that Nigerians living abroad also have a right to access mortgage loans and products in Nigeria to own homes in Nigeria.

So, when the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Arc. Ahmed Musa Dangiwa launched the Diaspora Mortgage Scheme on 14th November 2023 at the 6th edition of the Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit (NDIS), it became clear to Nigerians that the goal to house Nigerians is a wholesome objective.

Tackling the Housing Challenge of Diaspora Nigerians

There are over 20 million Nigerians in diaspora, remitting about $24 billion to the nation every year. That is just a little shy of the nation’s budget estimates for the 2024 fiscal year. This suggests a huge influx of foreign exchange into the country, with surveys showing a significant part of it is invested in real estate.

Unfortunately, this has also generated friction among families and friends, as there are often cases of diversion or misappropriation of funds sent by Nigerians living abroad to siblings or friends for the purpose of building a house. These funds get misused or siphoned, leaving the sender devastated.

There are known tales of Nigerians struggling abroad to make ends meet and sending money down to their loved ones in Nigeria to build houses or buy property on their behalf. Unfortunately, these loved ones deceitfully send pictures of random construction sites or property belonging to other people to their benefactors abroad.

With the intention to create the impression that the project is ongoing in order to receive more money for completion, these deceitful individuals end up defrauding their siblings or friends to the tune of millions of naira, with the victim often letting it slide for the sake of family.

This exposes a gap that needs to be filled. Nigerians in diaspora deserve to own homes in Nigeria too. Therefore, creating a system that makes it easier for them to do so triggers a win-win situation of convenient homeownership for them and a thriving real estate ecosystem.

Furthermore, creating a structure that supports homeownership through effective utilisation of remittances for homeownership will support economic growth significantly by providing employment and expanding the built environment.

On the other hand, there is grave concern that the portion of diaspora remittances that goes into investments is roughly around 30%, with about 70% going into family support, according to former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. It is hoped that a scheme geared towards homeownership for Nigerians in diaspora will encourage them to invest more in the real estate sector, rather than spend so much on frivolities.

It is important to note that such houses may go on to be occupied by their relatives here in Nigeria, which will further cut down the housing deficit in the country. The overall aim is to increase decent housing stock in the country for the benefit of all Nigerians.

Unravelling the Diaspora Mortgage Scheme

The Diaspora Mortgage Loan product was first approved by the FMBN Board in 2021 after it was introduced by then Managing Director and current Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Arc. Ahmed Dangiwa.

The affordable housing product was created for Nigerians living in the diaspora, providing them an opportunity to register and participate in the National Housing Fund (NHF) scheme. The product is an avenue for economically active Nigerians living abroad to be accommodated in the NHF scheme.

By becoming contributors to the NHF scheme through the Diaspora loan product, Nigerians abroad can access up to N50 million in mortgage loan to own their home in Nigeria. Such a contributor must have contributed consistently for a period of at least one year before they can access the loan.

Individuals eligible for the scheme must be 18 years and above, have a verifiable source of income, and able to make monthly contributions to the fund. Contribution categories are $150 monthly for those earning between $1,000 and $3,000 per month, and $200 for those earning $3,001 and above per month.

Accessing the loan also requires a 30% down payment, with the other 70% provided by the bank at a single-digit interest rate of 9%. Loan repayment can be done over a period of 10 years, spread through monthly instalments for convenience. Managing Director of the FMBN, Madu Hamman says the Diaspora Mortgage scheme offers a secure and reliable means for Nigerians abroad to own homes in Nigeria and protects them from falling victim to fraudsters. Just like the domestic product, the diaspora loan will also be packaged, disbursed, and recouped through reputable Primary Mortgage Institutions (PMIs).

The NiDCOM Partnership

The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria understands the essence of collaborating for success. This is why the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), led by Abike Dabiri-Eruwa, has been carried along in the creation and design of the Diaspora Mortgage Scheme since it was first conceived a few years ago.

As a liaison of the Federal Government who interfaces with Nigerians living outside the country, and ensuring their welfare and protection, it only makes sense that they become partners in the programme. NiDCOM has been at the forefront of consulting with the diaspora community, explaining the programme, and evaluating their acceptance.

Such engagements by NiDCOM have further helped to tweak the programme in line with the feedback from Nigerians living abroad. The aim is to ensure Nigerians in Diaspora get value for their contributions by easing the processes of registration, monthly contributions, and processing of mortgage loans, while also putting measures in place to ensure such loans are repaid within stipulated time frame. One big hurdle that has now been surmounted is ascertaining the income of a potential contributor and activating automated deductions. Hence, the decision to engage the employers and bankers of interested Nigerians living abroad.

Several meetings between the FMBN and NiDCOM have further culminated in the setup of a joint technical committee comprising members of both organisations to put together modalities and strategies for the swift and successful implementation of the diaspora product. It is clear that these engagements are yielding results considering the outcome of a recent courtesy visit by the leadership of NiDCOM to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Arc. Ahmed Dangiwa. It was decided at the meeting that the official international launch of the product will begin in February 2024, starting with Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Catalyst for Growth in the Real Estate Sector

Nigerians in Diaspora are likely to have peculiar housing needs based on their exposure to designs in other parts of the world. Hence, the FMBN has resolved to work with proven and reputable property developers with the requisite experience and track record to facilitate the construction of such affordable houses in select capitals and cities, such as Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Port-Harcourt, and so on. These affordable, but premium homes, will be designed to meet the tastes and preferences of Nigerians living abroad, while also promoting communal living.

By pulling a significant portion of diaspora remittances into real estate and by creating a pool of fund to supply more liquidity for housing construction, the Diaspora Mortgage scheme can trigger growth in the sector, which will further boost the sector’s contribution to the nation’s GDP, create huge employment in line with President Tinubu’s vision of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty, and generally grow the economy. Indeed, the Diaspora Mortgage Product is a masterstroke that is finally being unleashed at the right time.

The eight-point agenda of Mr President includes job creation, growth, poverty eradication, and access to capital. These four targets can be largely enhanced by the Diaspora Mortgage scheme by creating jobs in the built environment, specifically through increased construction activities requiring more artisans, skilled built professionals, and even players in the Building Materials sub-sector. These, on their own, already translate to poverty eradication as gainfully-employed Nigerians can make a living to cater for their families. Also linked to these is economic growth occasioned by increasing purchasing power, widening of the tax net, and enhanced economic activities through and around construction.

Furthermore, the product offers access to capital in the form of NHF contributions. The expectation is that this may not even affect the existing remittances with the hope that this product will bolster the influx of foreign exchange into the country.

It is already established that the Federal Government lacks the budgetary capacity to bridge the housing gap in Nigeria. Hence, such avenues can provide the much-needed buffer to ensure there is adequate capital for the quantum of houses that needs to be built in Nigeria in the coming years. This can only mean growth for Nigeria; not just in the housing sector, but also the economy as a whole.

The FMBN looks poised to deliver on its mandate. With a myriad of products already meeting the housing needs of Nigerians across all income segments, there is great optimism that the Diaspora Mortgage Scheme may just be the answer to the housing challenges in Nigeria, especially with regards to bolstering the bank’s revenue base for increased supply of decent housing to all Nigerians.


Needless to say, the housing mandate covers the provision of decent and affordable housing to all Nigerians, regardless of income, socio-economic background, and even residence. What this suggests is that Nigerians living abroad also have a right to access mortgage loans and products in Nigeria to own homes in Nigeria.

Source: ThisDay