Can The Self-Employed Access The National Housing Fund/Loan?

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Can The Self-Employed Access The National Housing Fund/Loan? Daily Law Tips (Tip 700) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)

Introduction: 

There is huge disconnection between government (especially, the Federal Government of Nigeria) and the ordinary Nigerians. While there are laws and policies designed to benefit the ordinary Nigerians, most of those laws, policies and schemes are often not promoted and advertised rather their benefits are dished out to the wealthy Nigerians that do not need them. 

The Federal Government of Nigeria has a national housing fund that is worth over N265 Billion Naira but many Nigerian workers are homeless or on rented apartments, even though deductions are compulsorily made from their salaries every month towards the national housing fund. Among workers in Nigeria is the self-employed and the workers in the private sector, who often assume that Federal Government welfare programs are only for Federal Government Workers. In this works, answers will be offered to the question; “Can The Self-Employed Access the National Housing Fund/Loan in Nigeria?”.

National Housing Fund and Its Regulator: 

To increase national housing, the Federal Government of Nigeria, made a law to create a national housing fund for all workers in Nigeria. So, through the federal law (the Federal Housing Act) made since 31st January 1992, the Federal Government of Nigeria created a housing fund for Nigerians. The Fund is being gathered from contributions by Nigerians in both the public and private sectors; investments from commercial and merchant banks; investments from insurance companies and financial contributions by the Federal Government for long-term housing loans. 

It is important to note that an attempt has been made to amend the law, the proposed new law was passed by the National Assembly but the President of Nigeria (President Muhammed Buhari) refused to sign it into law. The President refused assent to the proposed new law, on the grounds that the proposed law will cause hardship to Nigerians. Hence, the 1992 federal law is still the valid law for now.

 The federal law (the Federal Housing Act) appoints the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) to keep the National Housing Fund and administer it. The FMBN is the regulator of the national housing loan. The FMBN ensures that the proceeds from the National Housing Fund are utilized to finance the housing sector of the economy through wholesale mortgage lending to primary mortgage institutions. 

The headquarters of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) is located at No. 266 Cadastral AO, Central Business District, Abuja, Nigeria. The FMBN’s telephone numbers are; 09-2920689, 09-2920690, 09087973000 and 08170237904, email address is info@fmbn.gov.ng and website is https://www.fmbn.gov.ng. As a Nigerian, you have a right to visit them, call them or write them for inquires on the National Housing Fund, FMBN is created to serve Nigerians. 

The Self-Employed and the National Housing Fund/Loan:

A Worker in Nigeria is an adult that renders service or goods in any part of Nigeria in any sector and in any lawful enterprise while contributing to the labour force of Nigeria. With this, a person that is self-employed, or employed by government or employed by a private employer is a worker. In this, a self-employed person includes; artisans, labourers, freelancers, online workers, professionals and any other person that is independent in his work engagement and benefits; hence he/she is not answerable to any employer. A self-employed person is his own boss. 

In Nigeria, most persons that are self-employed are often schemed out of national welfare packages, may be because they often have no organized pressure groups to engage government, unlike government workers and other workers in organized sectors. The different labour groups and trade unions in Nigerian have a great role to play in this sector, when they get organized, focused and sincere. 

In the case of the National Housing Fund, the federal law that created the National Housing Fund allows all workers to benefit from the National Housing Fund. Hence, it allows persons that are self-employed to benefit from the National Housing Fund. A person does not need to be working for any government or any big company or employer or be from a particular tribe for him/her to be able to apply and benefit from the National Housing Fund/Loan. 

Monetary Requirements For Participation:

Any Nigerian worker (whether working for government or private employer or self-employed) that earns at least Three Thousand Naira (N3,000.00) in a year is qualified to apply, obtain and enjoy the National Housing Fund. Each worker in Nigeria is to contribute 2.5% of his/her basic monthly salary. 

So, where the annual salary is N3,000.00 (Three Thousand Naira), the monthly salary will be N250.00 (Two Hundred and Fifty Naira). The monthly contribution will be 2.5% of the basic monthly salary of N250.00 and that is Six Naira Twenty-Five Kobo (N6.25k). With this, any Nigerian that earns about N250.00 in a month (ie, N3,000.00 in a year) is eligible to enjoy the National Housing Loan (the worker can be employed by government or private person or be self-employed, it does not matter)

Conclusion and Recommendation: 

The National Housing Fund applies to all workers in Nigeria, whether a government worker, non-government worker, company worker or self-employed worker. Whether the worker is in federal, state or local government is not relevant and the state of residence or location of the worker is also not relevant. 

Any worker in Nigeria (including a person that is self-employed), that earns at least Three Thousand Naira (N3,000.00) in a year (that is at least, N250.00 in a month) is eligible to apply, obtain and enjoy the National Housing Fund. The National Housing Fund is your right and government has a constitutional obligation to provide good housing for Nigerians. 

Government laws, policies and schemes for the welfare of Nigerians are not for government officials, politicians and their dependents, only. Government at all levels must learn to be faithful and must ensure that welfare packages reach the people that need them. Government Agencies and offices created to regulate welfare schemes must promote awareness across Nigeria and be transparent. Nigerians should be informed, for what is the essence of a welfare policy if same is unpopular, unpredictable, inaccessible and unutilized? 

  My authorities, are:

  1. Sections 1, 2, 3, 16 (2)(d), 17 (3) (c), 318 and 319 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999
  2. Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 26 and 27 of the National Housing Fund, 1992
  3. Chuka Uroko, ”Here Is Nigerian Govrnmnment’s Understanding of Housing Deficit In The Country” (Business Day, 9 June 2020) <https://businessday.ng/real-estate/article/heres-nigerian-governments-understanding-of-housing-deficit-in-the-country/ > accessed 4 November 2020
  4. National Bureau of Statistics, “Poverty and Inequality in Nigeria 2019 : Executive Summary” (Nigerianstats, May 2020) <https://nigerianstat.gov.ng/elibrary?queries[search]=poverty > accessed 4 November 2020
  5. Onyekachi Umah, ““National Housing Fund Is For All Nigerians (Both Government and Non-Government Workers)” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 11 September 2018) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-181-national-housing-fund-is-for-all-nigerians-both-government-and-non-government-workers/ > accessed 4 November 2020.
  6. Banwo and Ighodalo, “National Housing Fund (Establishment) Act, 2018: Analysis & Recommendations For Legislative Review” (Banwo-ighodalo, 18 April 2019) <https://www.banwo-ighodalo.com/grey-matter/national-housing-fund-act-analysis-recommendations-legislative-review-2018?leaf=10 > accessed 4 November 2020 
  7. Onyekachi Umah, “Persons That Can Enjoy The National Housing Fund and Loans” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 5 November 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/persons-that-can-enjoy-the-national-housing-fund-and-loans/ > accessed 19 November 2020. 
  8. Joshnson Uche, “National Housing Fund Disbursements Hit N265 Billion Naira- FMBN” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 16 November 2020) < https://nairametrics.com/2020/11/16/national-housing-fund-disbursements-hit-n265billion-fmbn/ > accessed 19 November 2020.

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