Lagos endorses mortgage board’s independence
SET to have in place an institutional and legal framework for mortgage transactions in the state, the Lagos State Government has signed the amended law that would give more effectiveness and efficiency to the State Mortgage Board.
This, ostensibly, is to hasten the process of providing mortgage finance, perform other obligations and deal with new challenges that may crop up.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, while signing into law a bill amending the State’s Mortgage and Property Law of 2010 said the amendment was necessitated by the need to make the law more effective and to meet current realities in the state’s housing system.
At the ceremony held at the Lagos House, Ikeja, before signing the bill into law, Governor Fashola, who advanced some reasons that informed the amendment, said the new law would enable the State’s Mortgage Board to be truly independent without interference by any person or body.
The board was created initially to deal with the problem of who was to own the houses built by government and to provide the necessary assistance to the would-be buyers. Besides, it was discovered that if people were going to acquire a mortgage and ultimately own the houses built by government, there must be somebody who owned that house and who would invest the title in them and this was lacking.
According to Fashola, “the traditional method was always to use the Ministry for Housing to act as the owner of these houses, however, government, on advise, saw that the Ministry did not have any legal capacity to hold title because it is not one of the artificial legal entities recognized by law, therefore, the board was created to serve as the owner of the houses to make it possible to be able to vest titles in the ultimate buyers”.
But in doing so, government saw only within the realm of the problems that government was confronted with, though at the time, membership of the board was on part time basis, but having realized the enormity of works involved, it became imperative the board must be an independent body without interference from any quarter.
In order to be able to perform efficiently, the board is now to set up its own website, run its activities with the degree of independence it requires, decide who is qualified to own a house based on the criteria government has set out and other initiatives that are capable of advancing its course.
He expressed gratitude for the board members, who he said left well paying jobs to take up the appointment “with a very passionate undertaking”, thus, the need to send an amendment bill to the House of Assembly to ask that they be paid salaries, saying such move is one of the things the amendment has achieved now.
Recalling his prediction while launching the Lagos HOMS Scheme that many things would change as new challenges appeared that had to be dealt with, Governor Fashola pointed out that while some of such challenges would be dealt with by policy, some may necessitate changing the law or writing a new law adding, “We must never be afraid to change the things we create because the power to make change ultimately rests with us”.
The Governor, who gave as another reason for the amendment, the need to enable the Board gain the supervisory powers of regulation of departments and agencies that heads of Ministries should have over parastatals and agencies that report to them, expressed optimism that the new law would give institutional support and independence to the Board.
“We hope that the law will assist to give institutional support to the Board to be able to continue not only to build houses but also to provide mortgage finance and to do all of the things that it should do”, he said adding that it is one of the things that has been taken care of in the new law.
Other adjustments the law made, Fashola said, include lowering the representation of the Ministry of Housing in the Board to the level of Assistant Director explaining that should there be a problem, things would escalate first to either a Director and then appropriately to a Permanent Secretary to whom Ministries and parastatals report for oversight.
Noting that the adjustments that the law sought to make was to create proper governmental and institutional control, the Governor declared, “One interesting thing in all of these to me is that it shows clearly the fallibility of man in every undertaking that he pursues and it also shows how dynamic human thinking can be”.
Thanking the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, and the Speaker and members of the State House of Assembly for passing this law, the Governor added, “We must never be entrapped by anything we create. Once we create it and it is not serving the purpose for which it was created we must also have the courage to take a second look at it and this is what we have done with this law”.
Earlier while introducing the bill, the Attorney General and the Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Rahman Ade Ipaye, gave some of the highlights of the new law to include the changing of the title “Executive Secretary” of the Board to “General Manager”. This, according to him, is in conformity with the government’s policy of having all statutory agencies of the State headed by a General Manager.
Also, it was to guide against overlaps with the provisions of the Lagos State Arbitration and Court of Arbitration Laws, 2009, that deals with disputes requiring Arbitration in the State, and also to give more flexibility on the frequency of official meetings.
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