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By Bamidele Ogunwusi, Correspondent, Lagos
As part of efforts to support the present administration’s quest in the provision of mass affordable housing, ASO Savings & Loans Plc has in recent times entered into bilateral agreements and strategic alliances with the Federal and various state governments.
The move, in line with the transformation agenda of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, is also aimed at bridging the huge housing deficit across the nation.
The company, one of Nigeria’s leading Primary Mortgage Institutions (PMIs), last year made investment estimated at several billions of Naira in the Lugbe Social and Affordable Homes Scheme in Abuja.
The company, in partnership with the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, financed the construction of 144 blocks of modern flats out of the proposed 100,000 units of affordable homes scheme for various parts of the country.
In line with the Public-Private sector partnership which offers the Nigerian government a huge relief from the biting effects of the global financial crisis while offering the private sector a greater stake in the management of the nation’s economy, President Jonathan had had severally called on the private sector to partner with his government for economic development.
Speaking at the recently held one-day Presidential Stakeholders’ Retreat at the Presidential Banquet hall, Abuja, he noted the inequitable access to land for housing development and inadequate housing. This is why, he believes, the national housing deficit estimated at about 17 million units had remained a critical challenge to stakeholders in the sector.
To the President therefore, if this deficit is to be bridged, stakeholders must necessarily think of ways to provide affordable housing, especially to non-income, low income, lower middle income and informal sector workers. All these, he said can only be achieved if the developers in the private sector are ready to partner and compliment government efforts.
ASL recently partnered the Oyo State government to develop 1,400 housing units in its Transformation Housing Estate; the ground breaking ceremony was performed jointly by Governor Abiola Ajimobi and Managing Director of ASL, Mr. Hassan Musa Usman in Ibadan.
In March last year, the bank held a three-day national housing exhibition in Abuja where all stakeholders in the nation’s housing sector gathered to showcase the best of the industry offerings to a global audience. The organisation was highly commended for championing sectorial growth in the housing and mortgage industries by the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ms. Ama Pepple who declared the exhibition open.
Some months later in July, the bank, in collaboration with the Abia State Government, held a ground breaking ceremony for 400 units of flats in Umuahia, Abia State.
The bank also in partnership with the government of Cross Rivers State, through its subsidiary, ASO Investment and Development Company (AIDC), commissioned 200 units blocks of two and three-bedroom flats in Akpabuyo Local Government, near Calabar, the state capital, in the first phase of its housing development project.
The commissioning ceremony was performed by Ms. Pepple, who expressed her gratitude to Governor Liyel Imoke, represented at the occasion by the Acting Governor Barrister Efiok Cobham, and AIDC for cueing into the government’s Vision 20:2020 to provide affordable housing for all Nigerians.
The Minister also commended the developer for putting appropriate infrastructure in place before commissioning the project, while praising the State Government for being able to hand over keys of the houses to individual beneficiaries at the occasion. She called on other property development firms in the country to emulate AIDC and its parent company- ASL Plc for financing the project and providing mortgages for prospective beneficiaries of the housing scheme.
Speaking earlier at the occasion, Usman also thanked the government, Minister, as well as the people of the State, the MD of AIDC, Mrs. Isoken Omo; and other technical partners on the project; for their support that made the project a reality.
“This housing scheme is part of Governor Liyel Imoke’s transformation agenda to provide affordable housing for the public servants of Cross River State. The government provided the land, title and the necessary infrastructure required for the project. His Excellency was physically involved, supervising the progress of the work on weekly basis,” Usman disclosed.
The housing scheme, known as CROSPIL Estate, which comprises 200 units of two and three bedrooms semi-detached bungalows, targeted at civil and public servants in the state, is the first phase of the project. The development of the second phase, made up of 410 housing units, is expected to begin soon and be completed within the year.
On completion of the first and the second phases, the project is expected to have delivered a total of 610 housing units. The breakdown includes: 136 units of one bedroom terrace bungalows, 246 units of two bedroom semi-detached bungalows, 67 units of two bedroom detached bungalows, 96 units of three bedroom semi detached, and 65 units of three bedroom detached bungalows.
The estate is complimented with quality infrastructure, clinic, recreational parks, support retail outlets and civil facilities.
Speaking further, Usman revealed that his organisation is collaborating further with the government to replicate the project in all the local governments with the ultimate goal of developing up to 5,000 housing units across the state.
Also speaking at the event, Mrs. Omo explained that beneficiaries of the CROSPIL Estate scheme will enjoy mortgages from ASL secured from the FMBN at 6.0 per cent interest per annum to qualified contributors to the National Housing Fund Scheme and the Co-operative Housing Scheme of the FMBN.
However, for individuals outside both schemes, an equity contribution of an agreed percentage will be required while the balance can be made up through a commercial mortgage facility from ASL.
Mrs. Omo lamented the various challenges faced in the course of constructing the property but was grateful to the state government for standing by her organisation in surmounting all the difficulties.
In his closing remark, the Acting Governor, Barrister Efiok Cobham thanked all that have contributed to the success of the project, reaffirming the government’s resolve to ensure replicate the housing scheme in all the three senatorial districts of the state.
“Our objective is to provide decent and affordable houses for our citizens. This effort will bridge the housing gap in the state and compliment the Federal Government’s Vision 2020 Housing for all mission statement.”
Other dignitaries at the commissioning were The Chairman, Senate Committee on Housing and Urban Development, Abba Ibrahim; Speaker of the State Assembly, Larry Odey; Chairman, AIDC; Mr. Collins Chikeluba; Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Raphael Uche; Special Adviser to the Governor on Mortgage Finance, Edward Ogon; Chairman, Akpabuyo Local Government Area, Mrs. Josephine Effiom, among others.