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Mortgage bank, states disagree over housing fund contributions

The Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) and some states are not on the same  page over contributions to the National Housing Fund (NHF).

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The NHF, managed by the FMBN, is a Federal Government introduced scheme, to which all public servants and employees in the organised private sector nationwide are expected to contribute 2.5 per cent of their monthly salary to. 

Employees  who are active contributors to the scheme can then access the fund as mortgage/housing loan.

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The FMBN in a recent advertorial gave an update on the operations of the NHF in the last one year, regretting that despite its onerous efforts and improved performance indices, some states were still not participating in the NHF. 

It listed Lagos, Kano, Sokoto, Benue, Ondo, Ekiti, Edo and Oyo as states  defaulting in contributing to the NHF.

 “It is important to bring back the states to allow their citizens to benefit from the NHF Scheme,” the bank said.

However, while some of the states accused of defaulting have kept mute or failed to provide explanations for their action others have faulted the FMBN claims.

The Benue State Commissioner for  Housing and Urban Development, Barr. Otokpa Onoja, Otokpa told our correspondent in Makurdi that the state was not defaulting in its contribution to the National Housing Fund (NHF) operations.

He said that the inclusion of Benue by the bank among the states not participating in the scheme was not the reality.

“Benue has not defaulted to the scheme. The deductions are being done monthly from the workers’ salaries. It is alive and continuing,” he said.

The commissioner explained that some years back, the scheme was stopped in the state but that at the brink of the last administration in the state, it was started again such that since then the deductions have continued to reflect on the workers’ pay lists.

He added that the deductions were being carried out on monthly basis by the state’s Office of the Head of Service and the Ministry of Finance.

Also commenting on behalf of the Sokoto State government, its Head of Service, Buhari Bello Kware said the state government had not directed the stoppage of deductions for the Fund. 

“From the policy aspect of it government has not stopped effecting deductions,” he said explaining that, “Contribution started in November 1995 and it stopped September 2000 ,it was revived March 2015 and since then, it is still ongoing.” 

The HOS added: “This 2.5 per cent deductions from basic salary of each staff is actually going on.” 

Efforts to speak with Lagos State government officials responsible for the scheme over the matter yielded little result.

However, a top official of the finance ministry told our correspondent the state government’s non participation in the NHF could be attributed to numerous deductions the state carries out on the monthly salaries of its workers, adding NHF to it may be tantamount to over-burdening the workers in its employ.

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