By Onu Okorie
Minister of Works and Housing Mr Babatunde Fashola has tasked the newly inaugurated Board members of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria FMBN to re-position it as the pre-eminent Mortgage Bank for Nigeria as envisioned by the founders.
This was part of his address after inauguration of the Board yesterday in Abuja.
According to him, “this is why you will see that majority of the Members of the Board are either Bankers by training or Bankers by work experience spanning several decades.”
“The reason is clear, all the regulatory obligations that the Bank has to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) must be complied with.”
“I would advise that the Board and Management should at the earliest opportunity engage with the CBN and agree a Schedule of Compliance and Implementation of all reform initiatives including the computerization of the operations of the Bank which has begun.”
“As you will see, not only is there a prevalence of Bankers amongst your ranks, there is diversity of ethnicity, gender and religion. Every Zone of the six Zones in Nigeria is represented and from one female member, we now have three female members of the Board.”
He stated that the founders of the FMBN in the 1970s, envisaged to create a Bank, in every sense of the word and it was intended to do only one thing, ‘to provide Mortgage Banking services.’
According to Fashola, “all of these are self-evident from Section 1(i) where it was provided that:(i) There is hereby established a Mortgage Bank to be known as the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (in this Act referred to as “the Mortgage Bank”
“In Section 5 of the Act the functions of the Mortgage Bank are set out clearly as follows: “The functions of the Mortgage Bank shall be to: a) provide long-term credit facilities to mortgage institutions in Nigeria at such rates and such terms as may be determined by the Board in accordance with the policy by the Federal Government, being rates and terms designed to enable the mortgage institutions to grant comparable facilities to Nigerian individuals desiring to acquire houses of their own; b) license and encourage the emergence and growth of the required number of viable secondary mortgage institutions to service the need of housing delivery in all parts of Nigeria; c) encourage and promote the development of mortgage institutions at rural, Local, State and Federal levels; d) supervise and control the activities of mortgage institutions in Nigeria; e) collect, manage and administer the National Housing Fund in accordance with the provisions of the National Housing Fund Act; and f) do anything and enter into any transaction which in the opinion of the Board is necessary to ensure the proper performance of its functions under this Act.
The Minister however, assured the board that the Ministry will give it every reasonable and lawful support but will not hesitate this time to recommend to Mr. President, the removal of any nominee who falls short of the standards, or becomes a problem.
“In other words, your tenure of four years on the Board and five years on the Management Committee are not guaranteed but subject to performance.” He said.
He also drew the attention of the Board to the completion of the over 2,000 Housing Units at various levels of completion under the Ministerial Pilot Housing Scheme.
He also said that as a creature of Law, members are forbidden from making the Bank do anything that the Law does not authorize it to do, “and you can become individually and corporately liable for non-compliance with the Law.”
“This has become the important starting point for my inauguration remarks because in the tenure of previous Boards and Managements before this Administration, the Bank has been made to do things the Law did not contemplate and this has resulted in hobbling liabilities which I regret to inform you that you must now confront and resolve.”
Fashola further craved the Management and Board to bring to a Lawful end, all other ventures into which the Bank has dabbled which are not supported by Law.
“I expect this to happen through due process, supported by Legal consultations, Board debates and decisions and Ministerial or Presidential approvals as may be necessary.” He stated.