Reps ask Okonjo-Iweala to resolve housing scheme crisis


The House of Representatives on Thursday intervened in the crisis in the Federal Government’s affordable housing scheme for workers in a bid to prevent a possible industrial action by organised Labour.

Its Committee on Finance directed the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to resolve the issues within one week and report back to the House.

The committee, which is headed by Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin, asked the minister to discuss the issues with the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, Federal Mortage Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Mortgate Re-Financing Company between Monday and Tuesday next week.

Also to the attend the meeting is the Chairman, SURE-P, Gen. Martin Agwai (retd.), and the Managing Director of Good Homes Development Company, Mr. Nicholas Ukachukwu.

Workers had applauded the housing scheme, which is being financed by the FMBN through contributory deductions from their salaries.

The intial agreement, according to the NLC Chairman, Mr. Abdulwaheed Omar, is for workers to pay ý10 per cent of the cost of the project, while government will fund the balance of 90 per cent, using the FMBN as the vehicle.

But, Omar and the TUC leaders, who appeared before the House committee in Abuja on Thursday, raised the alarm that there was “credible evidence” that the initial agreement was about to be breached by the government and its agencies.

The union members had appeared before the committee after they earlier wrote a protest letter to the House, complaining of the twist of events.

Omar, who said he was saddened by the development, appealed to the House not to allow the hopes of workers to own houses where they could retire into, to be dashed.

He told the committee that rather than keeping to the 10 per cent agreed to, the burden on workers had been moved upwards to 30 per cent, an increase of additional 20 per cent.

In the government’s bid to alter the intial plan, Omar said a new Federal Mortage Re-Finanýcing Company had been established to undertake “mortgage re-financing.”

“This was not the initial agreement. Now, we are hearing of mortgage re-financing.

“We have not seen the houses, but we are hearing of re-financing. Workers are poor and don’t have that type of money,” he stated.

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