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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Workers seek review of National Housing Programme

Some workers in the North-East have advocated for review of the Federal Government’s National Housing Programme (NHP) to enable more Nigerians to own decent houses.

National Housing Programme
National Housing Programme estate in Kaduna

The workers and other stakeholders made the call in Bauchi (Bauchi State), Damaturu (Yobe State), Dutse (Jigawa State), Gombe (Gombe State), Maiduguri (Borno State) and Yola (Adamawa State) while responding to a survey on NHP implementation.

They said the call was imperative to mobilise participation and fast track successful implementation of the programme.

The NHP is the housing component of the President Muhammadu Buhari Economic Sustainability Plan to deliver affordable housing and millions of jobs for Nigerians.

The programme seeks to construct 300,000 houses across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for low-income earners and create up to 1.8 million jobs in the Construction Value Chain.

It is also designed to increase domestic production of construction materials through economies of scale as well as increase access to home ownership for low-income earners through reduced housing cost and alternative financing options.

However, high cost of the houses has been a source of concern to the workers as most of the respondents said they could not afford the exorbitant prices.

Available data on the NHP verified portal being handled by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing indicated that several the houses were currently on sale across the country.

According to the ministry, prices of the completed houses in Dutse indicated that one-bedroom bungalow costs over N9.268 million, and two-bedroom bungalow N12.398 million while three-bedroom bungalow costs N16.491 million respectively.

Some workers in Damaturu bemoaned the high cost of houses built by the Federal Government under the NHP.

They said the houses were beyond the reach of ordinary Nigerian.

Alhaji Mohammed Alka of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) said he did not apply for the houses under the scheme because it would attract high deductions from his salary.

“The deduction of over N40,000 from my salary is much, If I agreed to it, I won’t be able to fend for my family.

“Again, according to the National Housing Fund website, the prices of one-bedroom, two-bedroom, three-bedroom and Duplex houses range from N7 million to over N16 million.

“I have since given up because these houses are too expensive for a low-income earner,” he said.

A staffer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), in Damaturu, Rabiu Haruna, also said he could not afford the 20 and 30 per cent down payment as required under the scheme.

Saleh Mohammed, who is with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), said the over N12 million price-tag for the scheme’s two-bedroom flat was on the high side.

“I can get a land and build a two-bedroom flat here in Damaturu with half of that amount,” he said.

A worker with Federal University, Gashua, Yobe, Adamu Saleh, said the houses were built in the outskirts of the town, which he felt was unsafe.

Also, Mr Haliru Ibrahim, a retired worker in Bauchi, said Nigerians could not access the houses due to cumbersome processes.

He said workers were not getting the houses in spite of monthly deduction which was being effected from the salary of a worker and remitted to the NHF account from the point of entry to retirement.

“If you are lucky, you get your money back. There is really no hope in the system,” he said.

Another worker, Mr Alhassan Usman, described the concept of the NHP as welcome initiative, adding that if effectively implemented, it would address the wide gap of housing deficit in the country.

“Let’s have the hope that whenever we retire, we will have reasons to be happy and proud,” he said.

In Borno, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said its members are not befitting from the Federal Government’s housing programme in the past three years.

NLC Chairman in the state, Mr Yusuf Inuwa, attributed the trend to misunderstanding resulting from monthly deductions for those who had benefited from the programme.

He said that while deductions were being made from beneficiaries’ salaries, the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) claimed it has not been recieving the required remittance from government.

“This to us is a problem between the bank and Ministry of Finance, and should not affect workers,” he said.

He said workers in the state were disturbed, particularly those eager to access house refurbishment loan.

“We appeal to the management of the bank to come to aid of workers.

“We want them to resolve this matter with the ministry so that our members can start benefitting from the loan again,” Inuwa said.

Responding; Controller of Housing in Yobe, Mr JCN Wannang said that 38 blocks of houses had been completed under the scheme in Damaturu.

He said 24 of the houses were two-bedroom, 12 three-bedroom and two blocks of one-bedroom bungalow.

Wannang said all the necessary facilities were installed in and around the houses which would soon be inaugurated and released to successful applicants.

Additionally, the Federal Government had so far inaugurated 76 housing units in Dutse under the first phase of the NHP.

The project comprised four units of one-bedroom bungalow; 24 units of three-bedroom bungalow and 48 units of two-bedroom bungalow.

The project was designed with roads, drains, water and electricity supply facilities.

Also, The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) had constructed 100 houses in Dutse.

According to the bank, the project is being implemented in collaboration with Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigerian Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA).

Moreso, the Federal Government in May inaugurated 76 housing units in Gombe under the NHP of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.

The 76 housing units comprised 48 units of two-bedroom bungalow, 24 units of three-bedroom bungalow and four units of one-bedroom bungalow.

Ibrahim Baba and Abigiel Jesper, both workers in Damaturu and Yola, said review of the scheme would address housing deficit and assist more Nigerians.

Baba said that downward review of the prices would enable more Nigerians to own houses and benefit from the scheme.

Jesper stressed that such review was necessary to reposition the scheme to enable it to achieve the set objectives.

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