The Speaker of the House of Representatives Hon Tajudeen Abbas on Wednesday said that the House would review the obsolete National Housing Fund Scheme Act of 1992 in line with the current economic reality in the country
The Speaker dropped the hint in Abuja while declaring open the Investigate hearing organised by the House Ad-hoc Committee on Non-Remittance of contributions to the National Housing Fund and the utilisation of the fund from 2011 to date.
Speaking through Deputy Speaker Hon Benjamin Kalu, the Speaker said that the scheme which was designed to ensure that Nigerians have access to affordable housing mandates all employers has become obsolete hence the next for review
According to him, ” the National Housing Fund (NHF) represents a commitment to addressing one of the most fundamental needs of our citizens –affordable housing. Established by the NHF Act of 1992, this scheme which was designed to ensure that Nigerians have access to affordable housing mandates all employers – in both the private and public sectors – to contribute 2.5% of their workers’ monthly earnings into this Fund.
“As you are aware, offending sections 20 & 21 of this Act has convicts liable to both fine and imprisonment.
“The House will look into this law which is obsolete now. From 1992 till date calls for a review. There are other issues that the House will inject to make it fit for purpose.
“As a noble initiative rooted in the principles of collective responsibility, the scheme identifies the critical need to ensure access to affordable housing by hard-working Nigerians, in order to bridge the housing deficit gap in the country.
“However, to become a reality, we all know it is crucial that the Fund is managed transparently, efficiently, and in strict adherence to the law.
“The House was therefore alarmed to receive allegations of non-remittance by employers and in other cases, mismanagement and misappropriation of the hard-earned salaries of Nigerian workers, by the administering institution.”
The Speaker pointed out that it was within this context that the House resolved to investigate the alleged non-remittance to the National Fund and critically review the utilization of the Fund from 2011 to date.
According to him, “Thus, the mandate of this committee is a crucial one that resonates deeply with the well-being and aspirations of the Nigerian worker.
“Your task, as members of this Ad-Hoc Committee, is to shed light on the utilisation of these contributions, to ensure that the NHF fulfils its mandate to provide affordable housing solutions.
“The allegations of non-remittance are grievous, and we must uncover the truth, in order to hold those responsible accountable, and safeguard the interests of those who have diligently contributed to this Fund.”
He implored the Committee to embark on the investigation with a profound sense of responsibility, “bearing in mind that the National Housing Fund holds the potential to transform the lives of countless hardworking Nigerians by providing them with the opportunity to secure affordable housing”.
He advised the Members of the Committee that as the investigative hearing Commenced they be guided by principles of fairness, equity, and diligence, saying “Our mission is not only to uncover any irregularities but also to propose solutions that will strengthen the NHF and ensure it serves its intended purpose, while also preventing a reoccurrence of these issues”.
While expressing total confidence in the collective wisdom and dedication, also the expertise of the members of the Committee, the Speaker said “Together, we have the power to protect the rights of Nigerians to affordable housing through the National Housing Fund, and we shall fight vigorously to so protect these rights”.
In his opening remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Hon Datchung Bagos urged Stakeholders to be forthcoming in their presentations and submissions as petitions by aggrieved who should benefit from the Housing Renovation loan scheme were varied and grave
Hon Bagos who assured that the Committee would be thorough in its investigation promised that all the agencies that would appear before it would be given fair hearing to be able to get the true position of things concerning the scheme.
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