The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, has warned the management of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria to stop building estates for the super-rich with funds deducted from poor workers’ salaries.
Wabba stated this on Wednesday at a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of an estate on an expanse of land acquired in Karshi, Nasarawa State, by the Public Complaints Commission branch of the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria.
Wabba warned the FMBN to avoid a situation whereby poor homeless workers would be forced to park into expensive houses it was building for rich men in highbrow areas, many of which he added, remained unoccupied.
The NLC boss said, “There are so many houses in Abuja today that are unoccupied.
“These are houses that were built with workers’ money, deducted from their meager salaries, and yet the workers cannot afford them.
“We have told them that a time will come when they won’t need to invite people to occupy those houses because poverty will soon push us to park our loads into any empty house we see, built with deductions from our salaries.
“There is an estate built by the FMBN along the Abuja-Kaduna Road which they could not sell because they are expensive, people went there and occupied the buildings. We are getting there gradually.
“When you go round the city, just look for buildings built with workers’ money that are left unoccupied.
” Yes, we are getting to that point when 90 per cent of the people would be below the poverty line and the FMBN is building for the super-rich who are just 10 per cent. Housing schemes must be for the 90 per cent.
“Governments in the past were building houses for workers and would later sell the apartments to them at affordable prices.
“That is the type of system that we want now. We should practice a system that takes care of everyone including the vulnerable.
“Although the government said it is doing something about it but we believe whatever they are doing is not enough.
“We have enormous resources in this country that could take care of the need of everybody.
“One of the necessities of life is accommodation. It is so important because every worker wants to be a tenant but a homeowner.
“One thing that consumes the income of a worker is rent. If you save your rent for 35 years, it can build a house for you.”
He, however, said that the NLC was partnering with the FMBN to build affordable houses in all states of the federation so that workers could have roofs upon their heads.
He said, “Because we are stakeholders. We are social partners with the FMBN, I have set up a committee who will be meeting with the Managing Director of the FMBN and his other officials to try to look at how workers could benefit from what they are contributing.
“The money does not belong to the FMBN. It belongs to the workers because the funds are deducted from their salaries,” he added.
The Chief Commissioner, Public Complaints Commission, Chille Igbawua, and top officials of PASAN said the Karshi estate project will help cushion the effect of accommodation problems of the PCC staff.