By CALEB AYANSINA
ABUJA – PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, flagged off workers’ housing scheme to build 100, 000 housing units across the federation, just as the labour unions called on the federal government to ensure that the houses were affordable.
The first phase of scheme at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), which the Federal Government is undertaking in collaboration with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and private developers will take off with 22,000 housing units of various types.
Speaking at the flagging off ceremony at Apo Tafyi Layout, Apo District, in Abuja, President Jonathan said the event renews credibility to the success of the housing delivery initiatives of his administration.
He noted that his government would not relent in its efforts to improve the peoples’ standard of living, adding that provision of houses would be made a top priority.
The President, who said that efforts to ensure good road network in addition to other necessary infrastructure were already ongoing, disclosed that the project would provide about 10 millions jobs for Nigerians.
In her remarks, the Minister of Housing, Land and Urban Development, Mrs Akon Eyakenyi noted that the project would be funded by the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), calling for a greater synergy from the state governments.
“I wish to seize this medium to appeal to all the 36 State governments to make suitable and un-encumbered land available for the expansion of this worthy scheme, for the benefit of Nigerian workers nation-wide. My ministry stands to offers its professional advice and services,” she said.
The President of the NLC and the TUC in their separate address maintained that the purpose of initiating the scheme would be defeated, if the issue of affordability was not properly considered.
NLC President, Comr. Abdulwheed Omar told President Jonathan that there were a lot of issues that he (president) needs to monitor closely to ensure that they were all resolved in favour of the Nigerian workers.
Omar maintained that issue of wavers being granted by the Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCTA) to developers should reflect on the cost of each housing unit to be sold to workers not to further enrich the developers.
According to him, “We plead that government should resolve issue of wavers granted be translated into the reduction of housing unit, roads leading to this place be given urgent attention.”
He also disclosed that workers were already expressing displeasure on the 30 percent initial deposit requested from them, instead of 10 percent, telling Mr President to watch out on some of decisions to avoid his good gesture being jeopardised.
“Mr President, all the bulk of the decisions stop on your table, please look out, don’t allow some people to spoil your good gesture. Please look into all these for the good of the Nigerian workers,” he said.
In his remarks, the President of TUC, Comr. Bobboi Kaigama emphasised on the proper execution of the project, noting that Nigeria is good at formulating better policy but lack implementation capacity.
He said the union would be on the watch, and that, the way government handles it would further determine the level of confidence the workers would have in the present administration.
“We plead that all necessary infrastructure as promised by the government be put in place for the successful implementation of this project. We have no doubt about your government capacity to ensure success and we trust that we can take this project for granted as completed,” Kaigama said.