Contributors to the National Housing Fund (NHF) scheme in the North West have demanded the relaxation of conditions for obtaining a housing loan under the scheme.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NHF scheme was introduced by the Federal Government to enable contributors to the Fund, mainly civil servants, to obtain flexible loans to enable them to build their own houses.
Speaking to NAN in Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara and Katsina states, stakeholders called for a complete overhaul of the program to serve the purpose for which it was started, or failing that, abandon it completely.
They argued that not only was the process of obtaining loans too cumbersome, but the requirements were barely met by the majority of officials, thus running counter to the laudable goals of the program.
Aliyu Musa, a retired federal civil servant from Gusau, said there was a need to revamp the program to achieve its goals.
“All the years I spent in the federal public service, I could not find a home despite all the contributions I made on my salary.
“I think the essence of the program is to mobilize long-term funds to address the problem of the inability of Nigerian workers to secure their own homes, but honestly, the goal is not fully achieved,” he said. he observed.
Another Gusau Fund contributor, Alhaji Abubakar Usman, lamented that securing access to NHF facilities is still a herculean task, and therefore called on the federal government to restructure the program to make things easier.
A widow from Gusau, Maryam Adeniyi, also made a similar call, recalling that her late husband who was a contributor had been unable to access the housing loan despite his best efforts.
She lamented that even the process of recovering her accumulated NHF savings after her death was cumbersome, adding that the money got stuck.
Malam Musa Lemu, a retired federal civil servant in Sokoto, described the NHF program as a laudable program that made it easy for workers to own homes.
However, he deplored that the process of obtaining the loan was tedious, thus depriving the Scheme of the benefits arising from its implementation.
According to him, he retired two years ago but is still struggling to get his savings back.
Malam Adamu Suleiman, a staff member of the Federal Ministry of Information, Sokoto, told NAN that he had received alerts about deductions regarding his NHF savings in peacetime meals.
He said that when he approached the mortgage bank’s Sokoto office for a housing loan, he was told that only the bank’s headquarters could process the same.
He suggested the introduction of a seamless contribution and matching process that would encourage greater voluntary participation in the Scheme.
Usman Shehu of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Birnin Kebbi, lamented that administrative bottlenecks have hampered the full realization of the programme’s benefits.
“Scarcity of application forms, unnecessary and discouraging requirements and processes are issues that need to be addressed for the program to be most successful; there needs to be constant awareness of how the system works,” he suggested.
In his contribution, Alhaji Hamisu Abubakar of the National Guidance Agency (NOA), Birnin Kebbi, observed that the civil servants benefiting from the scheme were negligible and therefore called for its abolition.
As far as I’m concerned, the Scheme is a failure; some people are using the funds for their benefits at the expense of Nigerian workers; the regime must be abandoned,” he insisted.
Arguing along the same lines, Mohammed Iliyasu of the Federal Medical Center (FMC), Birnin Kebbi, alleged that the program was plagued by insincerity and corruption, just as he acknowledged that the motive for its launch was laudable.
He suggested that it either be reviewed or deleted.
Meanwhile, in Katsina state, some stakeholders have expressed dissatisfaction, saying the scheme has not served the purpose for which it was launched, noting that the conditions for obtaining the loans are strict.
Malam Yusuf Abdulkarim of the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, Katsina office, said the program fell short of contributors’ expectations.
For her part, Uwani Rabe advised the federal government to fine-tune the program to have the desired impact, just as she also noted that the conditions for obtaining the loans were strict.
“I tried to get the loan but couldn’t make it despite my contributions to the scheme so I gave up, and since then I’ve developed negative feelings about NHF,” he said. she stated.
Additionally, another respondent in Katsina, Malam Ibrahim Danlagos, suggested that participation in the Program be optional.
“Participation should not be made compulsory for civil servants, rather it should be optional; as things stand, similar workers are being forced to contribute, which shouldn’t be the case,” he said.
Some Kaduna residents have also lamented the lack of easy access to NHF loan facilities, saying the procedure to obtain them is cumbersome.
Residents who spoke to a NAN correspondent in Kaduna said the conditions for accessing the loan were difficult to meet.
Larai Usman, a civil servant, said she had applied for a home loan form with the NHF two years ago but had yet to receive a positive response.
“I’m told the loan takes two to six months to process if you’re lucky; our names have been compiled and a few forms have been brought to us at the office, but as we speak two years have passed with no response,” she said.
Danjuma Jato, a teacher from Kaduna, said he once tried to get the loan but was unsuccessful.
Jato said the requirements to secure the facilities were rather stringent, saying his application was rejected as he was still repaying a loan from a commercial bank.
“Some of the requirements should be reviewed to make them flexible for everyone,” he said.
Additionally, Rose Ishaku, an entrepreneur, said she was approached by a private property developer but was told she would have to make a payment of N500,000 as part of the requirements.
“The property developer said they work with FMBN and process loans for those interested, but the upfront payment and the monthly installment are quite high,” she said.
She urged the Federal Government to review the conditions for obtaining the loan to enable eligible Nigerians to benefit from the scheme.
For his part, Felix Ayina, a civil servant from Kaduna, said that although he contributed to the Fund, his salary was too meager to meet the needs of the family, as obtaining a loan would be an additional burden for him. him.
Making the same call, some Kano state officials urged the federal government to restructure the program to reduce the bureaucracy involved in accessing housing loans.
They also called for the process of refunding accumulated NHF money to retired civil servants to be simplified