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Page 9 Don’t use pension funds for housing-Adeosun By Isiaka Wakili The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, yesterday said pension funds must not be used…

Page 9

Don’t use pension funds for housing-Adeosun

By Isiaka Wakili

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, yesterday said pension funds must not be used to take direct developer risks in the housing sector.

Speaking in Abuja yesterday at the Works and Housing Summit, Adeosun said the potential role of pension funds in housing provision was much misunderstood.

She said: “The pension funds have been frequently touted as a funding solution to most needs in Nigeria, including housing. Pension funds do represent a pool of long term funds, they are not an ideal source for housing at the development stage due to the high level of risk associated with this phase. What pension funds need is predictable flow of annuity income to meet future pension payment obligations and this is provided at the mortgage phase rather than the development phase.”

She said the solution for the needs of development phase was creative government intervention, particularly at the early stage in the development of the industry, where there is the need to provide proof on concept which will attract private capital.

Adeosun also said the government planned, with appropriate safeguards, to de-risk lending to approved housing developers in order to stimulate the growth of the sector.

“This de-risking process will make it easier for banks to extend credit and for the issuance of bonds by developers. That de-risking process will entail the government providing guarantees and other credit enhancements to make the sector attractive and viable. Issuing promissory notes for the cost of land will reduce initial outlay and reduce developer financing requirements whilst creating valuable assets for the state governments,” she added.

She described provision of affordable housing as an essential tool in the fight against corruption, saying, “An employee with a 35-year working life must have the reasonable expectation of being able to accumulate tangible assets without the need to compromise.”

She said the government had the mechanism in place for the refinancing of mortgages through the Nigerian Mortgage Refinancing Company (NMRC) which, she noted, had already raised over $350bn of capital via a series 15 year fixed rate bond and had refinanced over N1bn of mortgages.

Dan-Ali clears allegations against Buratai

By Ronald Mutum

The Minister of Defence, retired Brig. Gen. Mohammed Dan-Ali has cleared the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai of corruption allegations level against him in a recent media report.

The minister yesterday said the government observed with dismay, the online media report alleging that Buratai and his family owned property in Dubai.

The minister in a statement signed on his behalf by his Principal General Staff Officer (PGSO) Brigadier General Mohammed Ahmed said the report should be disregarded.

“It is on record that Lt. Gen. Buratai had declared his assets as the Commander, Multi-National Joint Task Force and as Chief of Army Staff to the Code of Conduct Bureau,” he said.

He added that the facts were verifiable at the bureau, stating that the media should be more professional when it comes to security and defence related matters.

“The Ministry of Defence views this as an attempt by some unpatriotic and disgruntled elements to distract the leadership of the Nigerian Armed Forces from the successes in the war against terror, particularly in the North-east,” he added.

He assured Nigerians that the present administration would not harbour personalities with dubious character.

Prison break: Dambazau admits knowledge of security gaps at Kuje Prison

By Joshua Odeyemi

The Minister of Interior, retired Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, has admitted knowledge of security gaps at the Kuje medium prison in Abuja that led to the escape of two inmates from the prison at the weekend but said he earlier drew the attention of the Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS) to the gaps.

Dambazau told newsmen at the Kuje Prisons after a visit yesterday: “This is a very serious issue. The security gaps that I observed when I came here the last time, though I don’t want to pre-empt the outcome of the investigation, I think those lapses were what made it possible for the prisoners to escape.”

Two inmates awaiting trial for culpable homicide escaped from the prison on Friday night and are still at large.

He said an investigation had already been started by the Controller General of the Prisons Service, Ja’afaru Ahmed, noting that efforts would be made to reinforce security at the prison.

While insisting that the names of all the inmates in custody must be known by the authorities, Dambazau warned prison officers to take their jobs seriously.

“This place is a warehouse where we ensure that anyone who passes through does not go out as a criminal. So, if we leave these gaps, we will never be able to achieve our objectives,” he said.

Dambazau said the report of a preliminary investigation conducted had been submitted to him, but declined disclosing how the inmates escaped.

He warned that anyone found guilty would be punished even as efforts were being intensified to recapture the fleeing prisoners..

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