Fred Itua, Abuja

An expert in the housing sector and convener of the Abuja International Housing Show‎, Mr. Festus Adebayo, has revealed that many empty houses in Abuja were used as conduit pipes by politicians to launder money, prior to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said the only way to compel owners of empty houses to lease them out at given away prices, is to implement the property tax law passed and signed during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Speaking on ways to address the widening housing deficit, he stressed the need for political will in order to tackle housing deficit in the country, noting that it would bring strong implementation that would arrest the issue of housing deficit.

He said: “Political will is what made the government say don’t give agriculture loan on the double-digit interest rate, an order from CBN to all commercial banks. So, if the government of Nigeria has the political will, the CBN will come up with a policy that will direct banks to give a certain percentage of loan for housing and it must not go beyond one digit interest rate.”

He lamented that the decision of President Buhari to merge‎ the Ministry of Housing ‎with that of Power and Works has stifled growth in the sector, while also contributing to housing deficit in the country.

To this end, ‎he called on the president to, as a matter of urgency separate the Ministry of Housing from that of Power and Works so that there would be high level of concentration in the sector, as the Federal government plans to deliver affordable houses to low-income earners.

He stated: “President Muhammadu Buhari must as a matter of urgency separate the Ministry of Housing from the ministries of Power and Works. It is like the merger is not working because the power situation is not improving‎. The need to separate the Ministry of Housing from Power cannot be over-emphasised so that there can be a high level of concentration.”

Adebayo said that the Family Housing Funds (FHF) was the best intervention policy of the Buhari administration, adding that the intervention was aimed at addressing the housing problem of low-income earners.

He stressed the scheme which was at the take-off stage had already delivered 700 housing units in Masaka, Nasarawa State.

Adebayo stressed: “The take-off of Family Homes Fund is just now. When you start a company and they establish you on paper, there is a need ‎for you to have an office, there is a need for you to have administrative staff and all sort of things‎.

“But within the six months, FHF has successfully financed a project in Masaka, Nasarawa State. They call it luxury one, luxury two and each of them has 350 units. Meaning 700 houses have already been delivered. The highest cost of the house is N4.5 million, meaning the one bedroom is within the range of N2 million, 2 bedroom N2.5 million, 3 bedroom 3.5 million. You only pay 50 per cent and the other 50 per cent will be acquired through a mortgage.”

“Apart from the one in Masaka, Family Homes Fund is already building in Kano, Lagos, Kaduna, Delta, and Ogun ‎ states. It is established to have a presence in all six geopolitical zones plus Abuja. The only good thing I have seen in Buhari’s government is Family Homes Fund,” he said.

Adebayo explained that while the FHF was not on the ground to do what Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria ‎ (FMBN)‎ was doing or what any estate developer was doing, he noted that what the estate developers could not do was what the FHF had come to do‎.