The Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) has activated the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) scheme which is one of the pillars of the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation plan 2021-2025 (FCCSIP-25) to provide affordable and ideal housing for civil servants.
The Permanent Secretary, Service Welfare Office, Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Ngozi Onwudiwe disclosed this at a one-day sensitization workshop organized by the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) Department for FISH Desk Officers in Ministries, extra-Ministerial Departments and Agencies (MDAs), as well as civil servants registered on the FISH program with the theme: “Implementation of the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) Programme: Activation of the FISH Co-operative Scheme on Friday in Abuja.
The Workshop focused on the following thematic areas: FISH co-operative as a vehicle for addressing the housing need of civil servants; housing co-operative strategies for gaining access to construction and mortgage finance: optimizing the gains of an ideal housing co-operative; the role of FMBN in funding housing co-operatives and achieving transparency and prudent management of co-operative resources.
Dr. Onwudiwe, who was represented by the Director, FISH, Mrs. Uchenna Obi, stated that the workshop would bring to the fore a robust, inclusive, and sustainable approach toward the implementation of the FISH Programme.
She added that the main focus of the workshop was to educate and enlighten members of the FISH Co-operative Society on the concept of an ideal housing co-operative and how to leverage it to ensure that the housing need of members are met.
“All over the world, Housing Co-operative Societies play crucial roles in the delivery of affordable housing to their members by providing veritable platforms to aggregate funds and resources to achieve their mandates,” she noted.
Dr. Onwudiwe revealed that the FISH Programme, at inception, was designed to provide affordable housing for federal civil servants through an integrated strategy involving group land allocation, inter-ministerial collaborations, provision of infrastructure, site services, and, ultimately, the establishment of the FISH Co-operative Society, as a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the operation of the FISH Programme.
According to her, the OHCSF, via the FISH Department, has made concerted efforts towards actualizing its mandate of affordable housing delivery to civil servants, through the program, which resulted in the commissioning of four housing estates since its inception in 2015 and the delivery of houses in different locations within the FCT such as Kuje, Bwari, Karshi, Karu and Apo-Wumba to over 300 off-takers.
She, however, noted that the need to consolidate efforts and sustain recorded achievements necessitated the OHCSF to constitute a committee to explore alternative sources of funding for the FISH program, apart from loans from the Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board (FGSHLB) at 3 percent interest rate. “One of the suggestions was the need to activate the FISH Co-operative Society, in line with global best practice for mass social housing development.”
She also averred that the performance of a majority of co-operatives in the public service has been sub-optimal, with some enmeshed in corruption characterized by a lack of transparency and accountability in their operations which had made public officers develop apathy towards their activities.
“There is, therefore, a need to raise the standard of co-operative practice through the FISH Co-operative Society by not only making the interest of its members a priority but also by ensuring transparency and accountability in all its processes and procedures.”
She added that the workshop would avail the OHCSF, the opportunity to establish a workable framework for operationalizing the FISH Co-operative and ensure that the major objective of initiating the program is fully realized.