The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has threatened to pull out workers from the National Housing Fund (NHF) contributory scheme because of the non-remittance of deductions made by the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN).
NLC president, Comrade Joe Ajaero, issued the threat yesterday in a presentation before the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Non-Remittance to the NHF and Utilisation of the Funds from 2011 till date.
Ajaero said the FBN had failed to send alerts to civil servants on how much they had been contributing to the scheme and their monthly deductions.
He urged lawmakers to take drastic steps to remove the encumbrances to affordable and quality housing to millions of Nigerians, especially workers who make the highest contributions to the NHF.
The labour leader stated that the immediate past managing director of FMBN, Ahmed Dangiwa, who is now the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, had said he left behind N120 billion in the coffers of the bank.
“He (Dangiwa) said he was able to mobilise N249.1 billion to Nigeria’s housing fund, and increased subscription to 197,000 between 2017 and 2022,” Ajaero noted.
He said in spite of making the statutory contributions of 2.5 per cent of their annual salary to the NHF, many workers were unable to access the loan due mainly to administrative bottlenecks.
Ajaero said: “While the Act provides for 90 days from the date of application for the loan to disbursement, the experience by many workers are horrific as the undue delay in approving the loans force many workers to abandon pursuit of the loan.
He said many resort to third party agencies to fast track the loan application at unofficial fees, creating perception of corruption in the process of housing loan approval and disbursement to workers who need the funds.
While declaring the probe open, the Speaker of the House, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, said the allegations of non-remittance to the National Housing Fund were grievous and must be investigated.
The Speaker who was represented by his deputy, Hon. Benjamin Kalu asked members of the Committee to be guided by the principle of fairness, equity and diligence as they discharge their mandate.
He said: “Your task, as members of this Ad-Hoc Committee, is to shed light on the utilisation of these contributions, to ensure that the NHF fulfils its mandate to provide affordable housing solutions.
“The allegations of non-remittance are grievous, and must uncover the truth, in order to hold those responsible accountable, and safeguard the interests of those who have diligently contributed to this Fund.
“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.”
“The House was alarmed to receive allegations of non-remittance by employers, and in other cases, mismanagement and misappropriation of the hard-earned salaries of Nigerian workers, by the administering institution.”
The FMBN managing director, Madu Hamman said the total amount of contributions from MDAs from 2011 till date is N238 billion while those of individuals accrued to N225 million within the same period.
Hamman, however, asked for time to reconcile the conflicting documents from the N34.5 billion ministerial housing pilot scheme which was missing from those submitted to the Committee.
Consequently, the panel adjourned the hearing to Thursday to enable the bank’s managing director to come along with the required documents.