The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has threatened to pull civil servants out of the National Housing Fund (NHF), citing difficulties faced by workers in accessing the mortgage scheme despite monthly contributions to the fund.
The congress also criticised the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) over its management of the funds of contributors.
The President of the NLC, Joe Ajaero, said on Wednesday during an investigative hearing organised by an ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives.
The committee is investigating remittances of the mandatory NHF contributions and the utilisation of the fund from 2011 till date.
The NHF Act of 1992 mandates all employers in both the private and public sectors to contribute 2.5 per cent of their workers’ monthly earnings to the Fund.
Mr Ajaero said the federal government has been deducting the 2.5 per cent from the salaries of workers but the FMBN often fails to notify workers of the remittance to their NHF accounts.
He added that administrative bottlenecks in the process of accessing the mortgage scheme have created room for corruption in the system.
“While the Act provides for 90 days from the date of application for the loan to disbursement, the experiences by many workers are horrific as the undue delay in approving the loans force many workers to abandon pursuit of the loan,” he said.
He added that “many resort to third-party agencies to fast track the loan application at unofficial fees thus creating perception of corruption in the process of housing loan approval and disbursement to workers who needed the funds.”
Mr Ajero also informed the committee that despite the increase in the total pool in the NHF, workers are still not able to get loans to get shelter.
He, therefore, called for “drastic” action to save the mortgage scheme.
The Managing Director of the Bank, Madu Hamman, informed the House that civil servants still contribute the bulk of the funds, stating that the total amount of contribution from MDAs from 2011 till date is N238 billion, while the total individual contributions from 2011 till date is N225 million.
Mr Hamman also urged the committee to give the bank time to reconcile the information requested by the lawmakers.
The request by Mr Hamman was granted by the Chairman of the Committee, Dachung Bagos (PDP, Plateau).
The hearing was consequently adjourned to Thursday.
Earlier, the Speaker of the House, Tajudeen Abbas, said the lawmakers will consider reviewing the law which he described as obsolete.
Mr Abbas, who was represented by the Deputy Speaker, Ben Kalu, said the House is committed to bridging the housing gaps in the country.
“The House will look into this law which is obsolete now. From 1992 till date calls for a review. There are other issues that the House will inject to make it fit for purpose.
“As a noble initiative rooted in the principles of collective responsibility, the scheme identifies the critical need to ensure access to affordable housing by hard-working Nigerians, in order to bridge the housing deficit gap in the country,” he said.
Support PREMIUM TIMES’ journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: Call Willie – +2348098788999