By Funmi Komolafe & Victor Ahiuma-Young
THE leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, is enmeshed in crisis over an alleged disappearance of not less than N400 million being contributions of Nigerian workers to a housing scheme.
The money, which allegedly grew wings from one of the accounts of the NLC in a new generation bank in Abuja was meant for a mortgage scheme for Nigerian workers initiated by a private company (names withheld); alongside a Greek national( name withheld) as a principal partners in collaboration with the leadership of the NLC.
The N400 million allegedly looted is part cost of a housing project estimated to cost $6 billion,or N960 billion.
According to the NLC and the company, “NLC land in various state capitals would be used for the project”.
The agreement which was said to be aimed at providing houses for workers in the 36 states was signed by then NLC Acting President, Mr. Promise Adewusi, and the private firm in Abuja.
Following disclosure of this missing money, the NLC summoned an emergency National Administrative Council, NAC, meeting on Wednesday, September 18 at Labour House in Abuja.
It was gathered that subscribers to the scheme had protested at Labour House before the NAC meeting commenced.
The developer has no land which was confirmed by FCT minister hence the ground breaking could not take place on May Day as scheduled.
An involved suspect said to be on the run, according to a top official of the NLC was apprehended and handed over to the Directorate of State Service, DSS, in Abuja and was later released.
An authoritative source at the meeting, quoted the NLC President, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar as saying that the suspect “forged “his signature twice.
Other sources said the suspect in his statement named four officials of the NLC with whom he allegedly shared the money, two of whom are elected officers while the other two are secretariat staff.
A NAC member who was at the meeting said other members asked why an NLC account should have one signatory instead of at least two — national president and treasurer — in line with the norms in the trade union movement.
In most trade unions, any two of either the president, treasurer or trustee are signatories to a trade union’s account.
It was learnt that the issue of the looted money generated heated argument at the meeting as other members queried how anyone could have stolen so much money from the Congress account.
Sources said the issue came up during last Month meeting of NLC’s National Executive Council, NEC, in Enugu, but was glossed over.
According to impeccable sources, a key leader of the NLC who allegedly introduced the suspect to the Congress said unknown to the NLC, the suspect opened another account besides the one in which NLC leaders and representatives of the private company are signatories.
The plan was to build affordable houses for all willing NLC members, whose figure is put at eight million. The labour movement is worried about the 40 million housing deficit that exists in the country as revealed by a United Nations study.
Speaking to Vanguard, NLC General Secretary, Dr. Peter Ozo-Esan, denied knowledge of the of fraud, but admitted that NLC had issues with one of the three companies it was partnering with in the housing scheme for workers.
He said Congress would, within the week in advertorials explain its position and assured subscribers to the scheme that their money was 100 percent safe.
According to him, “I do not know anything about fraud or missing money over a housing scheme. I can confirm to you that NLC has arrangements with two or three companies on housing scheme for workers. The first is delayed and we have issues with it. But all those who subscribed to the scheme that NLC is signatory to, I can assure them that their money is 100 percent safe. But for those who contributed to where NLC is not a signatory, we have nothing to do with that. Within this week, we will make our position known on this and also reassure our subscribers that their money is 100 percent safe. We intend to take advertorials in some newspapers to explain this.”
The project is expected to cost about $6 billion or N960 billion. The interest rate (2% Per Annum) of the total amount of the property can be spread over five, 10 or 15 years (subscribers to choose), this is well below what is available in the Nigerian mortgage market today.
The NLC land in various state capitals would be used for the project.
The houses that would be provided include , two and three bedrooms bungalows, while the housing estates would also include construction of a four-star hotel with a 180-guestroom capacity.