​Haggai Mortgage Bank (RCCG): A revisit on shelter and the Nigerian church’s political strategy.

A lot have said the church has no business in business or politics. They should not be held accountable for how money is channeled and how they contribute to the struggles of ordinary Nigerians. RCCG disagrees. I present to you, Haggai Mortgage Bank, owned by RCCG.

While working my way through a research on predictive rent modeling for my Masters in real estate, I stumbled on HMB. Since the noise about Islamic banking and the islamization agenda, many have wondered what the church’s agenda is. I am proud to have stumbled on Haggai Mortgage Bank owned by Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).

My findings show and prove that churches recognize there is a financial system to the world they operate in. However, every other thing about the bank remains a disappointment. I say this based on the information publicly available. My research focuses mostly on publicly available data as this is mostly what investors base their decisions on, not some hidden information.

We need to be a bit more practical when defending churches and leaders. A lot of them are also aware that they are custodians of wealth and cannot deny this. They thus need financial systems and consequently business and political strategies.

The Bank

I found Haggai Mortgage bank while searching for information on housing instruments across Africa. The Center for Affordable Housing Finance (CAHF) recognizes majorly two institutions from Nigeria; Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) and Haggain Mortgage Bank. This recognition comes through their membership in the African Union for Housing Finance (AUHF).

This is a huge deal. It means for shelter advocacy and policy, there are only two members from Nigeria. RCCG’s Haggai Mortgage Bank is one of them.

The mandate to deliver affordable housing to Africans is a huge one. A s a real estate research student I see the need for Africa to evolve new financial and data systems. We must do these in order to create the kind of instruments that Africans can afford.

One of the greatest problems of housing has been financing and investment. This means Haggai Mortgage Bank could have been one of the major answers to this problem but is it doing work channeled to serving the people?

Again we find some interesting things about the bank’s model. These things keep us wondering whose interest the church has at heart. You may say but the church is not a business venture and you may be right. However, read till the end and let’s analyze some facts about HMB.

The Model.

If you watch the video interview of the MD of HMB, you will see a vague description of the bank’s model. Mr. Richard Olubameru Mentioned that he was brought on board by Pastor Adeboye.

When he was to talk about the vision of the bank, he refers to a passage in the bible Habbakuk 2:2 that talks about writing visions down. He ends up saying nothing exactly about the vision of the organization that has anything to do with the reality a lot of Nigerians face and of course a majority who are members of the church. In summary, the vision is about writing a vision down and running with it.

I watched several other videos looking for concrete information about the operations of the bank and found very little.
Talking about clientele and reviews. The Pastor of TREM (Mike Okonkwo) was also the only available review of the bank when one would be looking forward to seeing ordinary Nigerians who had benefitted from this structure.

This baffled me for a bit as I then immediately sought out completed projects. Going through the bank’s portfolio of projects, you would find RCCG camp houses, one Estate in Abuja, and a long list of churches including RCCG parishes, Make Me Beauty Place, TREM, Foursquare Gospel Church and Pastor Sam Adeyemi’s Daystar Christian Center.

At this point, someone might say probably the church is only investing in churches. Maybe they are unable to take on the risk of investing in affordable homes.

What then are they doing?

The summary of the above defense is that the church generates funds in order to lend to itself. It charges itself interest and probably also get some fees from residents of the redemption camp and then pumps that same money back into its bank.

The other ventures it has funded are mostly church structures too. They definitely have a payback structure which would include interests. This means the parishioners of the listed churches are not only going to be paying offerings to serve unidentified needs, they are also servicing loans.

Now, are we going to remain deluded over whether there is a business side to churches? If this is not business then what is? For many of us, we are not against the church being in business or having political agenda. Let’s stop the denial. The church could have played part in nation building if people recognized a need to ask for accountable use of resources.

In a country like Nigeria where there are so many things lacking for the average citizen, attending a church should avail one an opportunity to work within a community that cares. HMB started out as a community bank but has since been approved by the CBN as Microfinance and Mortgage bank which gives it more capacity.

Questions

It’s obvious that the management of the bank is aware that people are beginning to ask questions. The social pages; twitter and YouTube have only recently become quite active, providing information to the public. Probably management is realizing that there are a lot of questions about accountability and the church’s agenda. This will push people to start demanding for explanations.

This is a good sign. This article is not meant to denigrate the efforts of HMB but to raise awareness. Accessing housing loans in Nigeria is pretty tough, HMB on their website has committed to making funds for this easily accessible to individuals and this may be the opportunity you need to be a home owner.

This article is also aimed at creating an overview of what the bank has been up to. Why Christians need to ask questions concerning the church’s business and political agenda.

The moment the church started to collect and pile up offerings and tithes, it becomes imperative for people to understand how these collections are used. Not necessarily to criticize but for intelligent conversations.

Opportunities

When the CAHF or AUHF is going to request information from HMB about affordable housing, they will not be looking to discovering new churches being built. They would want to know how HMB is investing in it’s population of Nigerian citizens who are homeless. When they seek to broker partnerships that would secure homes for the poor, the CAHF and AUHF would be looking to find instruments which are aimed at creating better living conditions for the homeless.

The RCCG has a framework for investment and people need to know about it in order to access it. People need to also understand that the church is not in denial that the kind of money pool it has gives a business and political angle to it’s activities. I hope you find this useful. If you have any property or real estate investment instrument you would like me to research and write on, contact me on this blog’s homepage.

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