This Day (Lagos)

6 August 2012

Nigeria: Public Service Workers Seek Transfer of NHF Contributions

The union said the fund paid into the coffers of Federal Mortgage Bank (FMBN) had since inception not satisfied the yearnings and aspirations of contributors noting that it had rather become an elite scheme.

Outgoing President of the union, Mr. Olakunle Olaitan, who spoke at the association's 2nd Quadrennial National Delegates Conference in Lagos, lamented that members had not been able to access loan from the FMBN despite their contributions to the scheme.

He suggested that whereby it was impossible for government to transfer workers deduction to the housing board, workers contribution to the National Housing Scheme should be made voluntary.

"This Union has consistently urged the authorities to transfer billions of naira deducted from the salaries of Public Servants under the scheme to the Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board. This is because since the fund was established by Decree No. 3 of 1992 now Act, it has not satisfied the yearnings and aspirations of contributors. Instead, it has become an elite scheme.

"In fact, during the Monetisation policy under the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, public servants who applied for loan from the FMBN to enable them pay the initial 10 percent deposit as demanded by the Presidential Implementation committee (PIC) on alienation of federal government property were not given.

"This sharply contrasts with the sterling performance of the Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board which has between 1974 and 2011 granted loan to over16,000 public officers to build or purchase their own houses. I therefore implore the Federal Government to transfer the NHF deduction made from the salaries of Public Servants to the Board or make the contribution to the scheme voluntary," Olaitan said.

Speaking further, he decried the spate of corruption in the system noting that it had made Nigeria a laughing stock in the comity of nations.

He recommended the setting up of "special courts to try cases of corruption so that those found guilty should be made to forfeit all illegally acquired property and face jail sentences".

Speaking also at the occasion, President General of Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Mr. Peter Esele, urged workers to be committed in the quest to rid the nation of the malaise of corruption and build a prosperous nation where Nigerians will enjoy the dividends of democracy.

Esele said the congress was discussing with a donor agency to create a platform that would serve as a vehicle for fighting corruption in the country.

"A strong, committed and directed ASCSN will be an effective tool in the battle to reduce corruption in Nigeria. There is hardly any corruption that takes place in this country that cannot be unearthed by members of your Union and indeed there is hardly any of them that succeeds without either the passive or active connivance of somebody that pays his check-off dues to this great Union. This therefore puts you and us in a pole position to effectively push forward the frontiers of the war against corruption," Esele said.

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