HANNATU Fika, Executive Secretary, Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board (FGSHLB), on Tuesday called for the transfer of the monthly National Housing Fund contributed by civil servants to the board.

Fika made the call on Tuesday in Abuja, during the Public Hearing on “A bill for an Act to amend the Federal Government Staff Housing Board to administer a housing loan scheme for Federal Public officers and related matters.”

She explained that the fact that public servants contributing to NHF are not getting any benefit from the contribution necessitated the call for the transfer.

According to her, public servants were the surest block of workers, who contribute to the NHF.

“In order to address the concerns of public servants, the FGSHLB in partnership with the Federal Mortgage Bank, came up with the N1 million renovation loan at most.

“If the partnership like that of the renovation loan is legislated through certain percentage of the contribution of workers being willingly and legally allocated to the board either quarterly, monthly or yearly nobody will raise an eyebrow.

“After all, it is the contribution of public servants and we will be assisting the FMB in solving their challenges because we are both federal government agencies working with different mandates to meet the housing needs of Nigerians,” Fika said.

She noted that the proposed amendment seeks to remove some obsolete provisions in the Act, making the board more efficient to achieve the housing policy of the present administration.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the board also sought amendment to eight areas of the enabling act, namely; sections 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,11,13 and 14.

It also outlined willful delay or obstruction of a diligent inspection or investigation of information supplied for loan approval as an offence.

It, however, stated penalties for anyone who contravenes the provisions of the act to be convicted, fined or dismissed from service depending on the offence.

Earlier, Mr Yakubu Dogara, Speaker House of Representatives, said that the bill had come at a right time to give succor to civil servants.

Dogara, represented by the House Minority Whip, Mr Yakubu Barde, noted that Nigeria had a housing deficit of 17 million.

He added that most civil servants cannot afford houses in Abuja due to high cost of rent, thereby making them live in Niger and Nasarawa states from where they come to work every day.

According to him, the distance from their work place to their houses affects the output of their jobs negatively.

“It is our objective that most civil servants would own a house of their own when this bill becomes a law, to reduce the housing deficit in Nigeria,” Dogara said

In his address, Mr Gogo Tamuno, Chairman, House Committee on Public Service Matters, said that housing was a basic need of man that cannot be over-emphasised.

Tamuno added that the proposed amendment was to expand the law and cover the areas that were not covered.

“The law we are here to amend was inherited from the military; its last amendment was in 1976 that was over 40 years ago.

“No matter how properly articulated a law that has stayed over 40 years will definitely need amendment.

“We are here to expand the law to cover areas not covered earlier or newly introduced.

“For example the Federal Integrated Staff Housing Scheme (FISH) was not captured but its operating within the ambits of the law,” Tamuno said.

The chairman assured Nigerians that the final draft of the amendment for presidential assent would be in the interest of public officers.(NAN)