Some stakeholders, on Wednesday, have called for the review of the operations of the National Housing Fund Scheme in order to meet with the housing challenges of civil servants.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that the scheme was established in 1992 to enable Nigerians in all sectors of the economy to own their homes.
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In particular, the scheme is for those within the low and medium income levels who cannot obtain commercial housing loans to own houses by contributing 2.5 percent of their monthly salary to the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria who is the managers of the funds.
In his opinion, Mr. Sola Kuye, a just-retired public servant and former Zonal Coordinator of JAMB, said there was the need to review the scheme for effectiveness.
He said: “I don’t know how many people are benefiting from the scheme since it had started and deductions are being made from the salaries of workers monthly.
“Most people contribute through their time in service and it becomes difficult for them to be paid after retirement. I am not sure it is serving its purpose.
“From my experience, I have applied for the refund of the housing fund after I retiring four months ago; I have filled all the necessary papers and submitted other documents through my former office but I have yet to be paid.
“This is the fourth month now with no information or communication from the managers of the funds.
Another respondent, Mr. Gbemi Oguntula, a retired Director in NAN, said he benefited from the scheme and also got a lump sum after retirement.
According to him, the scheme has delivered on its mandate.
Prof Olugbenga Ehinola, Head, Department of Geology, University of Ibadan, in his submission, said Nigeria should not be static but dynamic to meet the current housing deficit in the country.
He wants the country to emulate China in terms of housing development and land use so as to solve problems that can affect the economy in years to come.
“Government should invite stakeholders involving the workers and private investors to a round table with a view to proffering solutions that will be holistic and innovative to the housing challenges,” he said.
He noted that private sector contributions were key and significant to turning around the Nigerian economy.
Ehinola said “Some retired workers went back to their villages since they had nothing to fall back on.
“Even in their villages, they are not welcomed because they had not put anything in place over there.”
He said though some workers were beneficiaries of the scheme, its impact was limited relative to the population size of the country.
To Prof. Soji Aremu, the Director, Distance Learning Centre, University of Ibadan, government should reappraise NHF, adding that this was why many people in government service steal because they wanted to secure their retirement.
“People do all kinds of things to have what they call ‘soft landing’ but I think if they are well catered for through schemes like National Housing Fund, this will reduce greatly,” Aremu.
According to him, it is not about the amount being deducted monthly but how the money is being deployed for the good of civil servants, especially after their retirement.