The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Nigeria Employees Consultative Assembly (NECA) have promised a better deal for Nigerian workers contributing to the National Housing Fund (NHF) scheme.
The executive secretary of Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board (FGSHLB), Mrs. Hannatu Fika which sought the transfer of 50 percent of federal civil servants contributions of the NHF to the board. The NHF which is managed by FMBN is a social savings scheme designed to mobilize long-term funds from workers, banks, insurance companies and the federal government to advance concessionary loans to contributors.
The proposal which is currently before the national assembly is contained in Section 8 of the amended loans board Act. Fika further alleged that the disbursement of Home Renovation Loan (HRL) to federal civil servants was done to douse tension. Recall that the FMBN last year disbursed HRL worth N643m to 740 federal civil servants across the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) through the loans board.
The managing director of FMBN, Arc Ahmed Dangiwa, noted that the essence of the tripartite collaboration between the bank and labour unions is to widen access to affordable loans and housing to workers. He lamented that houses sold by developers are exorbitantly high saying that civil servants who are the low and medium income earners cannot access the houses. This he said compelled the bank to come up with plans of either building the houses or sourcing for cheaper low-income houses for the workers.
Dangiwa debunked claims that the HRL was disbursed to douse tensions adding that HRL is one of the special products developed by the bank to assist workers with N1 million each to renovate existing homes. He maintained that the bank has disbursed HRLs to over 6000 workers in the last five years adding that the bank disbursed N6.5bn HRLs in 2017. Also speaking, the president of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama kicked against splitting of the National Housing Fund (NHF) contributions adding that labour cannot rob Peter to pay Paul.
According to him, “We cannot rob Peter to pay Paul because the operational scope of FMBN is different from that of FGSLB, though there are challenges we are prepared to face from both sides. Kaigama noted that the problems observed in terms of the law establishing FMBN and NHF are being amended at the national assembly saying that the leadership of NLC, TUC, and NECA are involved at every stage of administration of FMBN. He called on federal government to fund the FHSLB and pay up their shareholdings in FMBN stressing that the entire funds of FMBN are owned by workers. “Either way there are problems or services being rendered by labour, the two institutions were established by a law and you cannot undermine one law in favour of another because both institutions are working for Nigerian workers”.
“The FGSLB is only servicing federal workers while FMBN is servicing federal, state and local government workers as well as the private sector including the formal and informal sectors, so the scope of FMBN is wide”.
Kaigama said though there are problems but such problems would not be addressed by creating more confusion, assuring that NLC and TLC would liaise with the two institutions on how to trash out the areas of disagreement. He sought for the recapitalization of FMBN even as he appealed to the federal government and Central Bank of Nigeria to pay up their shares in the bank.
“Before now, we have not been having it very sound but we are assuring workers that with the new management team of the bank that workers will be better off in terms of getting services that they deserve”. “The foundation has been laid and we are building on that foundation to make sure that we give workers the best services it deserves”, he concluded.