To complement efforts of the Federal Government to improve access to mortgage financing and the country’s housing problem, various state governments are beginning to address the challenges associated with doing business in their states as it relates to issues of land and housing.
These include passing laws to reduce the time stretch it takes to issue Certificates of Occupancy and delegating top government officials to sign the governor’s consent rather than the governor alone.
Our correspondent found out that the Lagos State Government had adopted its own mortgage model law. Similarly, the Kaduna State Government had enacted its own act.
According to findings, both states have also worked on their property rights and land digitisation, while Gombe has made a considerable progress in the process.
Other states such as Cross River, Ogun, Kogi, Edo, Enugu, and Ondo are expected follow suit in the shortest time possible.
The Central Bank of Nigeria’s Head, Project Administration Team of the National Housing Finance Programme, Mr. Adedeji Adesemoye, stated that some state governments considered as pilot and mortgage friendly states under the Federal Government’s housing finance programme were at the level of adopting the mortgage model law that the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company was discussing for adoption.
According to him, these states are considered frontline as they are reengineering their land titling processes and making the possibility of getting the C of O within the shortest time possible.
“These states have streamlined their operations so that when people apply for a C of O, they can predict when it will be issued. If you apply for governor’s consent to mortgage your property, you can predict when it will be issued. Some of these states have also delegated the governor’s consent so that any of the commissioners so delegated can sign it; which will make the process faster,” Adesemoye said.
He also said the processes would help the states to key properly into the Federal Government’s reforms and mortgage transactions would take place in their states regularly, thereby helping to entrench mortgage in the housing sector.
In 2013, the Federal Government as part of a wider housing finance project obtained a World Bank long-term loan of $300m to develop a mortgage liquidity facility, a housing finance guarantee product and housing microfinance pilot schemes.
The NMRC was developed under the programme as a private sector-driven mortgage refinancing company, with the public purpose of promoting homeownership for Nigerians while deepening the primary and secondary mortgage markets.
Abia, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Enugu, Ekiti, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Ogun, Ondo states and the Federal Capital Territory, became the pilot areas to express support towards implementation of the housing finance initiative.
By creating an enabling environment for mortgage finance, the state governments are expected to encourage the NMRC to refinance mortgage loans created in these states. This is expected to improve their economies by increasing employment, labour and housing production through stimulating housing construction and manufacturing of building materials in such states.
The states are also expected to experience a significant increase in Internally Generated Revenues through withholding tax earned from increased transactional activities, personal income tax earned from increased residency, and fee income earned from increased volumes of mortgage transactions at the land registries due to efficiency created by digitisation and reduced mortgage transaction costs.
An estate surveyor and Chairman of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Lagos State chapter, Mr. Rogba Orimalade, said that for any government to be effective, it must know what it had in terms of land and housing, but he lamented that state governments’ record on land had been very poor.
According to him, state governments need land statistics to help them plan for both the short and long term.
He said, “Some of us believe that the cost of the governor’s consent in Lagos is still not low enough even when the former governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, reduced it. I am of the opinion that if state governments can genuinely capture in their records the exact number of people with registered and approved titles and the amount of developed property, it will be easy to totally reduce costs of planning.
“The Lagos State Government has done a lot, especially at the Lands Bureau, and is working on the right technology for anyone to carry out research from any location. It is good, but more needs to be done. Technology is changing fast and the average investor that is bringing funds into the country does not have time for bureaucracy.”
Orimalada said it was important for every state government to encourage and embrace the approach, as it would help them to plan for housing and the provision of infrastructure.