The Nigerian Labour Congress NLC and the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria FMBN have disagreed over the management of the contributory National Housing Fund.
The NHF is an offshoot of the NHF Act of 1992 which mandates all employers in both the private and public sectors to make monthly remittances to the fund.
It is an initiative of the Federal Government aimed at mobilization of funds for the provision of affordable residential houses for Nigerians.
The disagreement between the labour union and the nation’s apex mortgage institutions stemmed from recent threats by the former that it would pull out of the contributory funds, owing to its dissatisfaction regarding how the fund was being managed.
While speaking exclusively with newsmen, the Group Head of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, Mrs. Timan Elayo, countered claims made by the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, who told an investigative hearing organized by an ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives, that administrative bottlenecks in the process of accessing the mortgage scheme had created room for corruption in the system.
According to her, the FMBN had met ‘a large number’ of applications for the NHF but was unable to meet all the requests due to funding constraints.
She added that a number of requests were denied access to mortgage due to the ineligibility of the applicants.
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She said, “Oh yes, workers are accessing mortgage. That statement is probably coming from the expectation that everybody who wants to get a mortgage can get it. That is not possible because if you go by the number of Nigerians that would want the houses against the amount of money that we have at our disposal to disburse.
“You will know that it is impossible to meet every request. First of all, there is a funding constraint that will limit the ability to meet requests. However, a large number are being met as much as we can and within the available resources.”
The National Secretary-General of the NLC, Chris Onyeka, while speaking with The PUNCH, disagreed with the FMBN’s claim that Nigerian workers were accessing mortgages through the NHF.
Onyeka accused the FMBN of not providing proper accounts of the funds to the intended beneficiaries of the NHF.
Onyeka said, “If people are accessing it, who are they? These funds are kept somewhere and people who access them are the privileged few; that is always the problem. It is our money. It has to be accessible to us. There should be no impediment to our making use of our money.”