Contributors to the National Housing Fund (NHF) Scheme in Northwest have demanded the easing of conditions for securing housing loan under the Scheme.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NHF Scheme was introduced by the Federal Government to enable Contributors to the Fund, mostly civil servants, secure flexible loan to enable them build their own houses.

Speaking to NAN in Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara and Katsina states, stakeholders advocated a complete review of the Scheme to serve the purpose for which it was initiated, or in the alternative, scrap it completely.

They argued that not only was the process of securing loan too cumbersome, the requirements were hardly met by majority of civil servants, thereby defeating the laudable objectives of the Scheme.

Aliyu Musa, a retired Federal civil servant in Gusau, said there was need for the review of the Scheme for its objectives to be achieved.

“All the years I spent in the Federal Civil Service, I could not secure a house despite all the contributions I made from my salary.

“I think the essence of the Scheme is to mobilise long-term funds to address the problem of inability of Nigerian workers to secure houses of their own, but honestly, the objective is not being achieved fully”, he observed.

Another Contributor to the Fund in Gusau, Alhaji Abubakar Usman, lamented that securing access to NHF facilities was always a herculean task, and therefore called on the Federal Government to restructure the Scheme to make things easy.

A widow in Gusau, Maryam Adeniyi, also made similar call, recollecting how her late husband who was a Contributor could not access the housing loan in spite of all efforts.

She lamented that even the process of recovering his accumulated NHF savings after his death, was cumbersome, adding that the money had remained stuck.

Malam Musa Lemu, a retired Federal civil servant in Sokoto, described the NHF Scheme as a laudable programme that enabled workers to own houses easily.

He however lamented that the process of securing loan was tedious, thereby depriving the Scheme of the advantages derivable from its implementation.

According to him, he retired two years ago but is still struggling to get his savings refunded.

Malam Adamu Suleiman, a staff of Federal Ministry of Information, Sokoto, told NAN that he received alerts on deductions in respect of his NHF savings in peace-meal.

He said when he approached Sokoto Office of Mortgage Bank for housing loan, he was told that only headquarters of the bank could process same.

He suggested the introduction of seamless contribution and reconciliation process that would encourage more voluntary participation in the Scheme.

Usman Shehu of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Birnin Kebbi, lamented that administrative bottlenecks had hindered the full realization of the benefits of the Scheme.

“Scarcity of the application forms, superfluous and discouraging requirements and processes are issues that need to be addressed for the Scheme to record maximum success; there is need for constant sensitisation on how the system operates,” he suggested.

In his contribution, Alhaji Hamisu Abubakar of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Birnin Kebbi, observed that civil servants benefiting from the Scheme were negligible, and therefore called for its scrapping.

As far as I am concerned, the Scheme is a failure; some people are using the funds for their benefits at the expense of Nigerian workers; the Scheme should be scrapped”, he insisted.

Arguing along the same line, Mohammed Iliyasu of Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Birnin Kebbi, alleged that the Scheme was bedeviled by insincerity and corruption, just as he acknowledged that the motive for initiating it, was laudable.

He suggested that it either be reviewed, or scrapped.
Meanwhile in Katsina State, some stakeholders expressed dissatisfaction, saying the Scheme had not served the purpose for which it was initiated, noting that conditions for securing loan were stringent.

Malam Yusuf Abdulkarim of the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, Katsina office, said the scheme was not living up to the expectations of the Contributors.

On her part, Mrs Uwani Rabe advised Federal Government to fine-tune the Scheme for it to have the desired impact, just as she also noted that conditions for securing loan were stringent.

“I tried to secure the loan but did not succeed despite my contributions to the Scheme, so I gave up, and since then, I developed negative feelings about NHF”, she said.

Also, another respondent in Katsina, Malam Ibrahim Danlagos, suggested that participation in the Scheme be made optional.

“Participation should not be made compulsory for civil servants, rather, it should be optional; the way it is now, its like workers are being coerced to contribute, which should not be so”, he said.

Some residents of Kaduna also decried lack of easy access to loan facilities of NHF, saying the procedure involved in securing same, was cumbersome.

Residents who spoke to a NAN correspondent in Kaduna, said the conditions to be met to access the loan, were difficult to satisfy.

Mrs Larai Usman, a civil servant, said she filled a housing loan form from NHF two years ago, but was yet to get any positive response.

“I am told the loan takes two to six months to process if one is lucky; our names were compiled and a few forms were brought to us at the office but as we speak, two years have passed with no response,” she said.

Mr Danjuma Jato, a teacher in Kaduna, said he once attempted to secure the loan but could not succeed.

Jato said the requirements for securing the the facilities were rather stringent, saying his application was rejected because he was still servicing a loan from a commercial bank.

“Some of the requirements should be reviewed to make it flexible for everyone,” he said.

Also, Mrs Rose Ishaku, an entrepreneur, said she had been approached by a private Estate Developer, but was told she would have to make payment of N500,000 as part of the requirements.

“The Estate Developer said they collaborate with FMBN and process loans for interested individuals, but the initial payment and monthly remittance is quite high”, she said.

She urged the Federal Government to review the conditions for securing the loan to enable eligible Nigerians benefit from the Scheme.

On his part, Mr Felix Ayina, a civil servant in Kaduna, said although he had been contributing to the Fund, his salary was to meagre to meet family needs, as such securing any loan would be an additional burden on him.

Making the same appeal, some civil servants in Kano state urged the Federal Government to restructure the Scheme in order to reduce the bureaucracy involved in accessing housing loan.

They also requested that the process of refund of the accumulated NHF money to retired civil servants, be simplified.(NAN)