Nigerian Government moves to bridge housing gaps

Elizabeth Christopher,Abuja

The Nigerian Government has urged civil servants to key into the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) programme for better housing loan system.

Executive Secretary, Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board (FGSHLB), Dr Hannatu Fika made the call at a Seminar organised by the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) on Thursday in Abuja.

The Seminar with the theme: “Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) programme and what it means for public servants’’ was organised in collaboration with the European Union Support to the Federal Government Reform (EU-SURFEGOR).

Fika said that the FISH programme was established to cater for the housing needs of core civil servants by providing loan facilities to them.

She stressed the need for Human Resources Managers in Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) to encourage their staff to show interest.

“It is important to state that government is aware of its corporate social responsibility to its workforce.

“This is why the head of the Civil Service of the Federation is leaving no stone unturned to strengthen the Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board to provide housing loan facilities to public servants in the FISH programme.

“It is to serve as a buffer to focus more on ways and means to raise additional resources to meet up with the housing needs of the Federal Civil Servants, who are the least paid federal workers,’’ she said.

She noted that the core civil servants would be used as a pilot scheme for the issuing of N13 billion mortgage loan that was recently launched by the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun.

Fika said that 1,350 houses at various locations in Abuja and Lagos have been uploaded into the FISH programme, adding that allocation has already commenced.

The executive secretary said that the programme had established a cooperative with over 20,000 financial members from across the core civil service.

She added that the programme has entered into partnership with some developers to build over 3,000 houses for members at negotiated prices within the affordability range.

According to her, the FISH programme will immensely reduce the housing challenges facing core civil servants, thereby improving their efficiency and effectiveness.

In his address, Dr Joe Abbah, Director General, Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR), said that the seminar was organised to enlighten civil servants on the FISH programme and how to access mortgage loans.

He noted that Nigeria had the highest rate of population growth in the world, adding that civil servants were the worst hit with housing challenge as their pay was very low.

According to him, 108 million Nigerians were homeless because they cannot afford a house.

He, however, called on the FGSHLB to improve the loan system to meet the housing needs of the civil servants, adding that 1000 housing unit a year was inadequate.