10,000 Nigerians To Own Houses In 2014 – Okonjo-Iweala

Okonjo-Iweala speaking

The Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Monday said 10,000 Nigerians would own houses in 2014 through the Nigerian Mortgage Refinancing Company (NMRC).

Okonjo-Iweala, who is also the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, stated this at a Stakeholders Housing Summit in Abuja.

She said that the government had already received funds for the programme from the World Bank and additional 25 million dollars (about N4.1 billion) for micro financing and mass housing initiative.

She said the 25 million dollars would be utilised for the mass housing initiative and to help persons at the bottom of the society to repair their old houses.

She assured that the NMRC would begin operations at the end of June, 2014.

Okonjo-Iweala said that money would be pushed into the system if state governors would be ready to release Certificates of Ownership of Lands.

The minister said that the summit would come up with the criteria for accessing the mortgage loans.

She described the progarmme as “a very important milestone” of the Federal Government in its effort to provide affordable housing for all Nigerians.

Okonjo-Iweala said that government would ensure that the project was realisable.

“We are here to ensure that at the end of this year, so many Nigerians will say that as a result of this initiative, they have been able to buy a piece of land to construct their houses.

“I am hoping that at the end of this occasion, we would have launched an initiative where 10,000 Nigerians who do not have houses today will have access to housing,’’ she stressed.

Okonjo-Iweala also said that the new mortgage system would be an avenue to create jobs for young Nigerians.

“We have not yet created enough jobs to meet the number of entrants in the labour market each year; it is not that we are not creating jobs, but the issue is that we still have a gap of about 200,000 jobs.

“We have to work harder to meet that gap because also accumulated over the years is a pool of about 5.3 million unemployed Nigerians.

“You do not only have to deal with the pool entering into the market, but also the number that has been there without jobs,’’ she said.

The minister said effective housing sector would have significant multiplier effects that could create mass employment in the construction and building industry and related industries.

In her speech, Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Mrs Akon Eyakenyi, expressed optimism that governors in the 14 pilot states of the project would strive to enhance operations of their mortgage companies.

Eyakenyi assured that the ministry would continue to collaborate with all stakeholders to provide enabling policies, strategies and plans for the realisation of the housing initiative. [NAN]