Lagos – The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) are at odds over the management of the contributory National Housing Fund (NHF). The NHF is a component of the NHF Act of 1992, which mandates monthly contributions from both private and public sector employers to the fund. Established by the Federal Government, the NHF aims to raise funds for the provision of affordable housing for Nigerians.
Tensions between the labor union and the mortgage institution escalated after the NLC expressed dissatisfaction with the management of the fund, going so far as to threaten to withdraw from the contributory scheme. The NLC’s President, Joe Ajaero, voiced concerns about administrative hurdles in accessing the mortgage scheme, alleging that these bottlenecks had opened the door to corruption within the system.
However, the Group Head of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, Mrs. Timan Elayo, refuted the NLC’s claims. In an exclusive interview with The PUNCH, Elayo countered the allegations made by Ajaero during an investigative hearing convened by a House of Representatives ad hoc committee. Elayo acknowledged that the FMBN had received a substantial number of NHF applications, but cited funding constraints as a hindrance to meeting all the requests.
Elayo explained, “Yes, workers are accessing mortgage. That statement is probably coming from the expectation that everybody who wants to get a mortgage can get it. That is not possible because if you go by the number of Nigerians that would want the houses against the amount of money that we have at our disposal to disburse, you will know that it is impossible to meet every request.”
The NLC’s National Secretary-General, Chris Onyeka, countered Elayo’s assertions by claiming that Nigerian workers were not effectively accessing mortgages through the NHF. Onyeka criticized the FMBN for not providing adequate accounting of the funds to the intended beneficiaries of the NHF, suggesting that only a privileged few were benefiting from the scheme.
Onyeka stated, “If people are accessing it, who are they? These funds are kept somewhere and people who access them are the privileged few; that is always the problem. It is our money. It has to be accessible to us. There should be no impediment to our making use of our money.”
As the disagreement continues, questions persist about the transparency and accessibility of the National Housing Fund, highlighting the need for effective communication and cooperation between stakeholders to ensure the fund’s intended purpose of affordable housing provision is met for the benefit of all Nigerians.