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REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PRESIDENT GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN, GCFR, AT THE MAIDEN VISIT TO THE EKO ATLANTIC CITY PROJECT IN VICTORIA ISLAND, LAGOS, ON THURSDAY, 21ST FEBRUARY, 2013.
| President Jonathanís remarks on his maiden visit to the Eko Atlantic City project in Lagos |
Feb 22, 2013, 09:02
1. I am highly delighted to be here today on my maiden visit to the construction site of Eko Atlantic City. This landmark event is continuing the good news narrative that Nigeria must embrace permanently.
2. It took us nineteen years for us to win the nationís cup again; the trains that now run from Lagos to Kano took us another nineteen years to get them back on track.
3. And in this same year preceding our centenary, we are gathered here to witness the ground breaking of a modern city that will rise from the Atlantic bed in the commercial nerve centre of our beloved Lagos. This is good news indeed.
4. I want to congratulate South Energyx Nigeria Ltd, the Government and good people of Lagos State, Messrs Dredging International Ltd and all the financial institutions, especially First Bank of Nigeria Plc, First City Monument Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, BNP Paribas Fortis and KBC Bank, for this most outstanding initiative.
5. The correlation between well-planned development and good quality of life as a bedrock for higher standards of productivity and sustainability cannot be over emphasized even as we note that housing is an important sector that provides jobs for our young men and women.
6. It is in this regard that the Housing and Urban development sector has been accorded priority attention by my Administration in recognition of its huge potential as an engine of growth and sustainable development. To this end, the enabling policy frameworks for kick-starting the revitalization of this sector are now being put in place.
7. As part of the overall Transformation Agenda, this administration is committed to harnessing the potential of the housing and construction sectors as an important growth area for the Nigerian economy.
8. All over the world, housing and construction constitute an important component of GDP. The sector has extensive backward and forward linkages, and thus can drive job creation for the building materials industry, for artisans such as plumbers, carpenters, and masons, and also for those who specialize in the interior and exterior decoration of buildings.
9. Admittedly, there are challenges in the housing and construction sector that cut across a number of areas, including property titling and high costs of building materials among others. To resolve these challenges I convened a presidential retreat with a view to consulting widely and extensively with various stakeholders so as enable Government take the right decision in the interest of our people.
10. I am therefore pleased to announce, as one of the outcome of the retreat, that we have commenced work on establishing a Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Corporation (NMRC) to help in providing finance for the housing and construction sector.
11. The NMRC, which will be private-sector led, will be established as a PPP arrangement. The partners will include the Federal Government, Nigeriaís local banks and savings & loans institutions, and the multilateral institutions, especially the World Bank which is providing concessional credits of three hundred million dollars. Subsequently, the NMRC would be able to access the capital markets to raise long-term funds via bond issues.
12. We anticipate that the NMRC will provide more liquidity to the housing and construction sectors, and with its operations, would hopefully lead to reduced mortgage and construction finance interest rates.
13. The e-collection platform created by the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) for a more efficient collection and management of the National Housing Fund (NHF) and the broadening of its products to include provision of credit for informal sector workers are other complementary efforts to increase accessibility and affordability to mortgage finance.
14. With the on-going efforts to deal with the low capital base of mortgage institutions through new policy measures, we are optimistic that more Nigerians will be provided the opportunity of having access to home ownership.
15. The current policy measure of Government to encourage private sector participation in housing delivery through the Public-Private Scheme is also yielding good results with the implementation of a number of pilot schemes by the Federal Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development under the contractor-finance initiative.
16. The lessons from this initial effort are to be factored into a larger plan to gradually upscale the scope of implementation in the coming years to deliver more housing units using a variety of alternative technologies to promote accessibility and affordability in housing delivery.
17. The Federal Government of Nigeria is working with the State Governments to reduce the transaction time and the cost of the acquisition of land titles so that we can meet our objective of reducing the national housing deficit through substantial addition to the current stock.
18. I have received briefing to the effect that the construction of Atlantic City is benefiting from cutting-edge technology with special attention paid on climatic conditions including the perennial threats of ocean surges that has posed serious challenge to human and property on the coast of Victoria Island.
19. When completed, the Atlantic City will not only benefit the promoters of this project, but it will be an important addition to our nationís strive to promote tourism and good living. The Project is a great example of partnership, for it brings private individuals and companies who have the knowledge and requisite expertise to transform land lost to erosion into a delightful Ocean City.
20. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, new cities are good, new cities are smart, new cities help to improve our thinking and our lives. We will encourage urban renewal, and where necessary new cities to be built to complement the old. It is in this regard that the Federal Government has given its full support to the construction of the Eko Atlantic City. I want to encourage every state government and other entrepreneurs to emulate this noble initiative.
21. Once again, I thank the initiators for this outstanding legacy project that will not only benefit the present generation, but generations yet unborn as well.
22. I thank you.
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