In a move to check fraud being experienced by some Nigerian in the Diaspora who wants to buy houses in cities across the country, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) are collaborating to develop 15,680 housing units FHA Diaspora City project.
The project is estimated cost of N236billion while total inflow with sales revenue is estimated at N2.5trillion
Already, the Office of the Vice President has promised to facilitate a quick allocation of 200-1000Ha by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) in favourable locations for the pilot project in Abuja and also facilitate free and secured remittances of instalmental payments from Diaspora off-takers through a specialised account approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) .
Speaking during a meeting in Abuja, Managing Director of FHA, Prof Mohammed Al-Amin stated that the pilot project would commence in Abuja, Benin, Port Harcourt and Lagos in 2017 while the 2nd phase of the project would start in Enugu, Kaduna, Asaba and Ibadan in 2018.
The MD observed that over 15million Nigerians in the Diaspora adding that the project is designed to provide a secured and sustainable home ownership for Nigerians living and working outside the country as well as workers of Nigerian Diplomatic Missions.
He explained the project is being facilitated by the office of the Vice President with ICPC as the project promoter while FHA serves as the Project developer and owner.
According to him, ICPC also have the responsibility to strengthen systems to enable them work efficiently Project management TSA has been opened adding that construction mortgage finance account would be domiciled at FHA Mortgage Bank. Project Domicilliary account both Dollar and Euro
Al-Amin noted that individual remittances stood at $21billion in 2013 stressing that with a secured housing programme in place, it can be as much as $35billion
He stated that the project would provide a non oil window for sustainable flow of foreign exchange of at least $10 Billion annually to the economy adding that there is paucity of foreign exchange in the country and it was suggested that remittances from Nigerians in Diaspora are huge opportunities
In his remarks, Chairman of ICPC Mr. Ekpo Nta, explained that the idea behind the project started in 2015 when he was invited by Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation sometime to come to their meeting in Germany adding that at the end of that exercise he came back home and did a lot more investigations and discovered that in 2015 Nigerians in the Diaspora sent back to Nigeria $25bn as remittance.
According to Nta, ” When you break down these monies that they sent home, its generally to secure accommodation for themselves either by building through relations or developers, to give allowances to their parents, or to start up businesses and in all three, the findings I had through my organisation was that their aspirations were not met”.
“Most of the monies meant for building, if they wanted a duplex, the people will deliberately build stores and when they come they say it’s not what they want and those who built it will take it away just like that. And sometimes these people create artificial security problem so that those in diaspora don’t even come home to ask about the monies they sent. For the brave ones that decided to come home, they were kidnapped and when released they didn’t come back home again”.
He said, “After the MoU, I made contact with the FHA and told him that these are things which the agency can tap into, because the people need good accommodation and they have the funds. I have also gone to the banks on this issue, for if you are transmitting $25bn to your country and Western Union, for example is taking 0.1 per cent of that, you don’t need to work. So why can’t Nigerian banks key into it? I’ve sold the same ideas to our banks and told them that if they can’t set up as individual banks, they can form a consortium of banks and work out their remittances”.
Nta who observed that ICPC can do a security check on the project beneficiaries said, ,”If the total foreign reserves of Nigeria as of last month was $30bn for the whole country, and a group of persons are sending $25bn, you don’t ignore that kind of group”. 15