By Bennett Oghifo
Public-Private Partnership offers the Nigerian government a huge relief from the biting effects of the global financial crisis. It also gives the private sector a greater stake in the management of the Nigerian economy, specifically in the development of infrastructure, housing, urban development and management.
President Goodluck Jonathan in his drive at achieving his transformation agenda has on so many occasions, called on the private sector to partner with his government in order to improve the economy. One sector that is critical to the transformation drive of the government is that of housing.
Speaking recently at a one-day presidential stakeholders’ retreat at the presidential banquet hall, Abuja, President Jonathan noted that inequitable access to land for housing development and inadequacy of housing in view of the national housing deficit estimated at about 16 to 17 million units had remained a critical challenge to all stakeholders in the sector.
To him, if the deficit is to be bridged, ways must be sort to provide affordable housing, especially to non-income, low income, lower middle income and the informal sector workers. All these, he said could be achieved only if the developers in the private sector were ready to partner and compliment the government’s efforts.
One organisation from the private sector in Nigeria that has keyed into the transformation agenda of the present government at bridging the huge housing deficit in the nation is ASO Savings and Loans Plc.
For now, ASO can be said to be Nigeria’s leading Primary Mortgage Institution (PMI) because of the prime role it plays in providing Nigerians access to affordable housing schemes, using viable mortgage options.
Presently, the mortgage firm has entered into bilateral agreement and strategic alliances with various states government and even the Federal Ministry of Lands, Housing & Urban Development to provide massive housing schemes for Nigerians.
Earlier in the year, ASO invested multi-billion naira capital on its Lugbe Social and Affordable Homes Scheme in Abuja. The mortgage bank constructed 144 blocks of modern flats out of the 100,000 units of affordable homes scheme it plans to finance across the country. This is being done in partnership with the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
Also, ASO recently partnered the Oyo state government to develop 1400 units of homes in the Oyo State Government’s Transformation Housing Estate. The ground breaking Ceremony was laid jointly by the Governor of Oyo state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi and the Managing Director of ASO Savings & Loans Plc. Mr. Hassan Musa Usman in Ibadan.
In March this year, ASO held a 3-day national housing exhibition in Abuja where all stakeholders in the Nigeria’s Housing sector gathered to showcase the best of the industry offerings to a global audience. Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ms. Ama Pepple, who declared the exhibition open commended the organisation for championing the growth in the Nigerian housing and mortgage industries.
On July 24, 2012, ASO in collaboration with the Abia State Government, held a ground breaking ceremony for the development of 400 units of flats in Umuahia, Abia State.
On Monday, December 10, 2012, the firm inaugurated 200 units blocks of 2&3-Bedroom flats in Akpabuyo Local Government, Cross River State, which is the 1st phase of its Housing Development Project. It built the homes through its subsidiary, ASO Investment and Development Company (AIDC) in partnership with the Government of Cross Rivers State.
The inauguration ceremony was performed by the Minister of Lands, Housing & Urban Development Ms. Ama Pepple. The Minister expressed her gratitude to the Governor of the State, Senator Liyel Imoke, who was represented at the occasion by the acting Governor Efiok Cobham, and the private developer, AIDC for taking part in the 2020 Vision of the Federal Government to provide affordable housing for all Nigerians.
Ms. Pepple also commended the developer for putting appropriate infrastructure in place before commissioning the project. She praised the government for being able to hand over keys of the houses to individual beneficiaries at the occasion. She called on other property development organisations in the country to emulate AIDC and its parent body ASO Savings and Loans Plc for financing the project and providing mortgages for prospective beneficiaries of the housing scheme.
The Managing Director of ASO Savings & Loans Plc, Hassan Musa Usman thanked the people of the state, the Governor and his cabinet, and the Minister. He also acknowledged the contributions of other technical partners on the project and the Managing Director of AIDC, Mrs. Isoken Omo for supporting and working to make 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,” Musa Usman disclosed.
The housing scheme, known as CROSPIL Estate, is targeted at civil and public servants in the state. The 200 units of 2 and 3-bedrooms semi-detached bungalows were built in the first phase of the project. The development of the second phase, which would have 410 housing units, would begin in January next year and would be completed within the year.
At the end of the 1st and the 2nd phase, a total of 610 housing units of 136 units of 1 bedroom terrace bungalow, 246 units of 2 bedroom semi detached bungalow, 67 units of 2 bedroom detached bungalow, 96 units of 3 bedroom semi detached and 65 units 3 bedroom detached bungalow. The estate has high quality infrastructure, clinic, recreational parks, support retail outlets and civil facilities.
Usman said his organisation would collaborate with the state government to replicate the project in all the local governments in the state with the ultimate goal of developing up to 5000 housing units.
The Managing Director of ASO Investment and Development Company, Isoken Omo explained that the ASO Savings/Cross River state Government’s Public Servants Housing Scheme, CROSPIL Estate, is targeted at the low/medium income earners of the state. The beneficiaries of the scheme, she said, would enjoy mortgages from ASO Savings & Loans Plc which would be secured from the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) at 6 per cent to qualifying contributors to the National Housing Fund and the Co-operative Housing Scheme of the FMBN.
She said for individuals outside both schemes, an equity contribution of an agreed percentage would be required while the balance could be made up through a commercial mortgage facility from ASO Savings & Loans Plc.
Omo expressed concern over 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.
The acting Governor, Efiok Cobham thanked all that have contributed to the success of the project. He confirmed that the housing scheme would be replicated 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 event were the Chairman, Senate Committee on Housing and Urban Development, Senator Abba Ibrahim, the Speaker of the Cross River House of Assembly, Honorable Larry Odey, Chairman, ASO Investment and Development Company (AIDC), Mr. Collins Chikeluba, Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Raphael Uche, Special Adviser to the Governor on Mortgage Finance, Edward Ogon, the Chairman, Akpabuyo Local Government Area, Honorable Josephine Effiom and other senior officials from FMBN, AIDC, and ASO Savings & Loans Plc.