Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN (left) with his Deputy, Hon. (Mrs) Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire (right) during the signing of the Mortgage and Property (Amendment) Law 2015 at the Lagos House, Ikeja, on Monday, February 16, 2015.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, Monday, 17th February, 2015, signed into law a bill amending the state’s Mortgage and Property Law of 2010 saying the amendment was necessitated by the need to make the law more effective and meet current realities in the state housing system.
In his remarks at the Lagos House, Ikeja, before signing the bill into law, Governor Fashola, who advanced some reasons that informed the amendment, said the new law would enable the state Mortgage Board to be truly independent without interference by any person or body in the discharge of its duties.
The Governor explained that the Lagos Mortgage Board was created initially to deal with the problem of who was to own the houses that Government wanted to sell because if people were going to acquire a mortgage and ultimately own the house built by government, there must be somebody who owned that house and who would invest the title in them.
According to him, although the traditional method was always to use the ministry to own the houses, government, on advice, saw that the ministry did not have any legal capacity to hold title “because it is not one of the artificial legal entities recognized by law”, adding that the Board was created “as the owner of all the houses so that it could vest titles in ultimate buyers.
“But in doing so, we saw only within the realm of the problem we were confronted with and at the time what we did was that the board must be a part time board. By the time we created the board, we now realized that this board must be an independent board without interference by anybody”, he said.
Fashola said the purpose of the government was for the board to be able to set up its own website, run its own show, decide who is qualified to own a house based on the criteria government has set out and without anybody breathing down on its necks adding that members of the Board have performed creditably for almost a year now without salary.
“Many of them left well paying jobs to come and take up this very passionate undertaking”, the Governor said adding that one of the things it did was to send an amendment bill to the House of Assembly to ask that they be paid salaries. “This is one of the things this amendment has achieved now”, the Governor said.
Recalling his prediction while launching the Lagos HOMS Scheme that many things would change as new challenges appeared that had to be dealt with, Governor Fashola pointed out that while some of such challenges would be dealt with by policy, some may necessitate changing the law or writing a new law adding, “We must never be afraid to change the things we create because the power to make change ultimately rests with us”.
The Governor, who gave as another reason for the amendment, the need to enable the board gain the supervisory powers of regulation of departments and agencies that heads of ministries should have over parastatals and agencies that report to them, expressed optimism that the new law would give institutional support and independence to the Board.
“We hope that the law will assist to give institutional support to the Board to be able to continue not only to build houses but also to provide mortgage finance and to do all of the things that it should do”, he said adding that it is one of the things that has been taken care of in the new law,” he said.
Other adjustments the law made, Fashola said, include lowering the representation of the Ministry of Housing in the board to the level of Assistant Director explaining that should there be a problem, things would escalate first to either a Director and then appropriately to a Permanent Secretary to whom ministries and parastatals report for oversight.
Noting that the adjustments that the law sought to make was to create proper governmental and institutional control, the Governor declared, “One interesting thing in all of these to me is that it shows clearly the fallibility of man in every undertaking that he pursues and it also shows how dynamic human thinking can be”.
Thanking the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, and the Speaker and members of the state House of Assembly for passing this law, the Governor added, “We must never be entrapped by anything we create. Once we create it and it is not serving the purpose for which it was created we must also have the courage to take a second look at it and this is what we have done with this law”.
Earlier while introducing the bill, the state Attorney General and the Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Rahman Ade Ipaye, gave some of the highlights of the new law to include changing the title “Executive Secretary” of the board to “General Manager” to, according to him, “conform to the state policy of having all statutory agencies of the state headed by a General Manager” and to guide against overlaps with the provisions of the Lagos State Arbitration and Court of Arbitration Laws, 2009, that deals with disputes requiring Arbitration in the State, and also to give more flexibility on the frequency of meetings.
Also present at the occasion were the Deputy Governor, Hon. (Mrs.) Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire; Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr. Lanre Babalola; state Commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pensions, Mrs. Florence Oguntuase; state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba; state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Olusola Oworu; and Special Adviser to the Governor on Political and Legislative Power Bureau, Mr. Muslim Folami; among others.