By Tunde Osho
The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) has urged the National Assembly to rescind its alleged plan to scrap the Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board (FGSHLB).
In a statement issued by the National President, Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama and the Secretary-General, Comrade Alade Bashir Lawal, ASCSN lamented that instead of concentrating on making laws that would alleviate the suffering of the citizens, the National assembly “was bent on enacting a law to abolish the Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board in order to inflict maximum pain on Public Servants.”
“The ill-advised Bill which has gone through Second Reading in the Federal House of representatives if allowed to be passed into law will certainly inflict maximum damage, pain, and sorrow on hapless Public Servants who have devoted their entire working lives serving their fatherland,” the Union stated.
It emphasized that Decree № 6 of 1974 now Act that established the Board charged it with four core mandates of providing loan facilities for Public Servants to build a residential house in Nigeria for use of the applicant or his family; purchase a parcel of land in Nigeria in which such residential house is to be built; purchase a residential house in Nigeria for use of the applicant or his family; and for improving or extending a residential house owned by the applicant and to which he has a valid and good title acceptable to the Board.
“It is on record that the Board has, since its inception, granted loan facilities to about 22,989 public officers to buy land, build or purchase houses and renovate same.
“Eminent public officers that have benefitted from the scheme include the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Alison Ayida Akere, Longe Gray Adetokunbo Eromoso, Osinowo Olusegun, Onagoruwa Micheal Alaba, Balewa Balarake Abubakar. Others are Duba Garba, David West Howard Fynn, Falae Samuel Oluyemi, Vasta Mamman Jiya, Bali Domkat Hah, Dongoyaro Joshua Nimyel, Madaki Yohanna, Ayinla Jubrila Olukayode, Akhigbe Ohai Michael, Etim Ekpen young Edet, etc. These notable Nigerians would not have been opportuned to collect loans to build their maiden houses if the FGSHLB was not in existence,” the Union emphasized.
The ASCSN posited that the argument by the Federal Lawmakers that the FGSHLB was performing the same function as the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) and as such should be scrapped was untenable because while the Board was set up to cater specifically for Public Servants, the FMBN as a premier mortgage institution in Nigeria is to provide long-term credit facilities to mortgage institutions in Nigeria and encourage the emergence and promote the growth of viable primary and secondary mortgage institutions to service the housing delivery in all parts of the country.
“It is instructive to note that since 1992 when the National Housing Fund was established and the FMBN was charged with the responsibility of administrating the funds of contributors which now runs into billions if not trillions of naira, Public Servants who have benefitted from loan facilities to build their own houses can be counted on the finger tips.
“Besides, it is precisely because of the failure of the FMBN to grant Public officers loan facilities to acquire their own houses and the spectacular performance of the Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board in this regard that led the Trade Unions in the Public Service to start demanding, more than six years ago, that the funds contributed by public officers under the NHF Scheme deposited with the FMBN should be transferred to the Board to manage on their behalf or make the contribution voluntary;” the Union emphasized.
According to the ASCSN, it was only the FGSHLB that had given hope to public servants especially core Civil Servants that they would be given loan to build or purchase their own houses while serving their fatherland.
It pointed out that public servants, through their Trade Unions, are well represented in the Board of the FGSHLS and monitor its activities in respect of the discharge of its core mandates whereas they are excluded from the Board of the FMBN and as such unable to ensure that it carried out its statutory obligations to workers.
“In the process, workers are short-changed even though the money being mismanaged belongs to them.
“Thus, any plan to scrap the Board will be tantamount to a declaration of economic war against public servants whose emoluments are so meagre that they can barely feed themselves and their families let alone build houses from their earnings,” the ASCSN stated.