FHA begins reform, launches central property registry
FOLLOWING the plans by the authorities to jump-start the commercialisation of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), the leadership of the agency has moved to deepen the organisation’s performance by creating a new Central Land and Property Registry.
The registry was created from the former ICT and Estate Registry and moved to the office of the Chief Executive. Another milestone in the rebirth of the organization is the commencement of a pilot urban renewal project in Gwarinpa area, which aims to transform Gwarinpa into a model city.
The new development was revealed at a one-day management retreat on Strategizing for Effective Restructuring and Commercialisation of the FHA in Abuja, recently, where the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Mrs. Akon Eyakenyi explained that the move to commercialise FHA was due to the under-performance of the agency over the past 40 years.
She noted that the organization has not been able to meet the legitimate aspirations of Nigerians. “FHA is government’s foremost agency for housing delivery. Housing is one of the basic needs of man. You will all understand then why a government such as ours, which is committed to transforming the lives of the citizenry, is genuinely worried by the consistent under-performance of the FHA over the years. The organization has not been able to meet the legitimate aspirations of the people of Nigeria,” she said.
The minister observed that the present administration has gone great lengths to frontally confront the nation’s huge housing deficit in the country and created a conducive environment for private sector operators to improve their participation in housing delivery.
According to her, government created the Nigerian Mortgage Refinancing Corporation (NMRC) to simplify the process of creating mortgages for Nigerians and had also approved the new National Housing and Urban Development Policies.
She noted that all these actions are aimed at removing all the encumbrances that hinder access to decent and affordable houses for all Nigerians.
“However, a parlous FHA creates a disconnect in the country’s delicate housing equation. While NMRC is aimed at strengthening the consumer in his demand for housing, the FHA is expected to firm up the supply side of the equation. That was why the President graciously approved the restructuring and commercialization of FHA as a step towards empowering it to deliver on its mandate.
“ Following that approval, I had the privilege to inaugurate both the Interim Management Team and the Technical Board of the Authority on December 12 last year. The two bodies are to be in place for a period of 18 months beginning from November when the Presidential approval was obtained”.
Eyakenyi stated that the retreat is an opportunity for staff of FHA to gain more insight into the reform document, adding that the document, with specific deliverables and timelines, is supposed to serve as a compass to guide the Interim Management Team in implementing the restructuring and commercialization of Federal Housing Authority.
“The reform document is neither perfect nor was it cast in stone. I expect all of you gathered here today to examine the document clause by clause and come up with your views and observations on how to implement its recommendations in a way that would hasten the achievement of government’s objectives”, she added.
FHA’s Managing Director, Prof. Mohammed Al-Amin observed that FHA was once a beacon of hope and the guiding light for the Nigerian built environment, adding that with a highly professional work force, and indeed the highest collection of well-trained building industry professionals in the country, the authority delivered housing estates in good quality and on time in various locations nationwide.
He argued that the first evidence of the internal dysfunction that set in was the gradual erosion of its ability to meet the targets it set for itself. “Sadly, the Authority in over 40 years of its existence has grossly under-performed. While there may be arguments here and there over the quantum of its contributions to the national housing stock, there is no doubt that the Authority has not given Nigerians value for their investment”.
He said:” We met an organisation with a virtually collapsed operational structure. With a weakened structure and decayed corporate governance, it would have required more than a miracle for the authority to be the model government agency it aspires to be. To worsen matters, the staff of the authority, some of whom have stagnated on the same level for upwards of ten years and were, quite expectedly poorly motivated. Quite justifiably, there were misgivings among the staff about their future and that of the authority. Rather than work in synergy to promote the interest of the authority, Staff and Management were in perennial state of mutual suspicion which put a dagger at the heart of the authority”.
According to Al-Amin, the new management has taken the initial step at creating the Central Land and Property Registry by collapsing the ICT and Estate Registry and moving it to the office of the Chief Executive. “This step, we are certain, will protect the integrity of the Authority’s vital property documents. To set the tone for a wholesale restoration of sustainable environment in our estates, send an unmistakable signal to our various critical publics on the rebirth of the FHA a well as to key into government’s Transformation Agenda.
“We have kick started a pilot urban renewal project of one of the Authority’s estates in Abuja which we named ‘The Transformation of Gwarinpa into a Model City’. Management has also sought and obtained approval for the implementation of a Strategic Action Plan for 2015 which will be implemented through eight Transition Implementation Task Teams to drive the revitalization of the Authority”.
“A critical step in bridging the gap between the parlous reality of today and the world class, pacesetting government agency of tomorrow is the determination of us all, the critical stakeholders assembled under this roof today. All of us joining hands and putting our ideas on the table can help to midwife the new FHA. The nation will be much better with its enhanced contribution to reduce human suffering and to increase our national GDP”, he added.