ABUJA – Civil Servants have called for the scrap of the National Housing Fund scheme, saying that it is of no benefit to them.
A cross section of workers who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sideline of the May Day celebration in Abuja on Friday, claim that they were being robbed of their money.
Mr Adam Ogwola, the Chairman, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), said that the scheme had been hijacked by a few who seem to be the most connected.
Ogwola said that the modalities to access loan while in service were extremely stringent and that accessing one’s money after retirement was equally cumbersome.
“Majority of workers have not benefitted from the NHF scheme; the body itself is open to manipulation.
“They normally give conditions that are conducive for one to access ones money even when one retires.
“Most times they frustrate you when you need loan for your house and even when you retire, it’s another story; from what I know, the last people that were paid was in 2011.
“My union has been trying to ensure that our retirees get their money but all efforts to ensure that retirees from 2012 till date get their money have been in vain.’’
On the houses said to be constructed for civil servants, the chairman said the cost at ranging from N3 million and above, was prohibitive, considering the salaries of civil servants.
He urged the incoming administration to pay keen attention to the issue of houses for workers by evolving innovative ideas for low cost houses.
He applauded the National Health Insurance scheme rating it above 50 per cent and called for the modernisation of the scheme to accommodate more workers even in the states.
“The NHIS is really serving workers well; aside from one or two complaints of the scheme not covering some drugs and illnesses, I would rate them above 50 per cent.’’
Hajiya Aminat Ibrahim, the President, Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, also supported the suggestion that the scheme be scrapped since workers it was meant to benefit, were not enjoying it.
“If they really wanted to help civil servants, the scheme can work when reviewed with that in mind.
“ I cannot rate the benefits of the NHF scheme at all because it’s like a cult, a secret that you cannot access; if it’s possible, they should stop it and give us back our money.
“ I don’t see how they want civil servants to pay what they are looking for.
“The amount of salary we are receiving and even the low interest they are talking about we cannot afford it.
“I have not seen anybody who has accessed it; I may be wrong but I have not seen anyone in my organisation that has accessed it, not even me.’’
According her, the NHIS is very good, because since its inception, it has raised the hope of the masses in spite of the few challenges.
Mr Benard Ugwueze, the Secretary, National Union of Civil Engineering Construction Furniture and Wood Workers, also said that the NHF should be stopped since 97 per cent of workers had yet to benefit from it.
Against the opinion of other workers, Mrs Mercy Dominic, the President, Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI), Federal Mortgage Bank Chapter, however, described the NHF as a success.
Dominic said the challenge was that most workers were not aware of the scheme and the benefits they could derive from it.
She said the bank was undergoing a restructuring that would upgrade it to effectively cater for the needs of the civil servants.
She reiterated the need to create awareness on how to access the benefits for better housing before and after retirement.
Also speaking, Mr Saffiyanu Attah, the Public Relations Officer, NHIS, said the agency was also working out modalities to improve on the scheme, especially to extend it beyond the federal level to states.
“We also need the Federal Government to assist by making polices that will inspire state governors to embrace the scheme,” Attah said.
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