By Yinka Kolawole, with agency report
The Federal Government has formally launched a comprehensive housing scheme for federal civil servants under the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) programme. FISH is an initiative of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HOS) in partnership with the American Building System International (ABSI).
At the ground breaking ceremony at the Apo Tafyi District Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari said the initiative showed that the synergy between government and the private sector was the way to ensure the development of the country. He said the initiative of the office of the Head of Head Civil Service of the Federation was commendable as it would give workers the opportunity to optimise their service output.
The president who was represented by Alh.Mustapha Shehuri, the Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, said the government was targeting about 5,000 housing units in all the states within three years. He called on the civil servants in the country to re-dedicate themselves to the service of the nation. “I urge the workers to re-dedicate themselves to service and contribute to good governance. This government is committed to workers’ welfare,” he said.
Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HoCSF), Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, remarked that provision of mass housing is a basic need and necessity in every society. She also noted that housing development will contribute to the development of national economy through the generation of employment in the building and allied industries and its attendant increase in financial intermediation and economic activities.
“To address the nagging issues of housing gaps especially for federal civil servants, my office conceptualized the FISH programme to provide cost effective and affordable housing for various categories of workers as a means to uplift their moral, commitment, stewardship and quality of life during and after service,” she said.
Oyo-Ita noted that most civil servants lived in slumps, especially in the FCT and other major cities since they could not afford decent houses because of the cost. She appealed to the Federal Government for a special intervention fund through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to be channeled to civil servants as loans, through the Federal Housing Loans Scheme.
She said the loan would be recoverable from monthly salary payments of beneficiaries. Also speaking at the occasion, President of Dangote Group, Alh. Aliko Dangote, represented by Engr. Mansur Ahmed, Executive Director, Dangote Group, said the government and the organised private sector must continue to collaborate not only to build structures but also build other national values and maintain existing structures to stimulate national development.
He said as the civil servants are mother of all institutions, if the civil service works, other institutions would work well.