Housing Development Advocacy Network (HDAN), has accused the Federal Government of deducting 40 per cent of the National Housing Fund (NHF), contributed by the Nigerian workers.

Executive Director of HDAN, Festus Adebayo made the revelation in an interview with newsmen in Abuja.

According to him, the Federal Government now has till the end of the year to refund the deducted sum or face legal action from the association.

Adebayo noted that the NHF domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), is aimed at making available to contributors, decent living houses, regretting however that the government whose responsibility it is to protect the rights of the citizens, has turned around to be their burden.

He said: “We give the federal government till the end of this month to return all the deductions or face legal action from HDAN. We are saying this to uncover what government is doing that is not right. We have fought for the success of NHF and we stand by that success. There is nothing government can do that will make any worker to withdraw from participating in the National Housing Fund, but we will ensure that their money is not taken by any government.

“HDAN condemn the action of federal government in deducting 40 per cent of NHF contribution that is domiciled in the rental account of the CBN. The National Housing Fund was set up by a decree that make provision for Nigerian workers to contribute 2.5 per cent of their basic salary. Some of these workers who have been working for about 20-30 years cannot benefit from this fund. Much effort has been made to get many states to be involved but the information before us is that 40 per cent is being deducted from source by the federal government of Nigeria.

“It is our belief that the primary responsibility of the government is to protect lives and property. With the situation in the country where the cost of building materials and everything has gone up, there is no other establishment that can provide affordable housing than the government. Why should a government that is supposed to provide social housing now become a government that is deducting 40 per cent of money contributed by poor Nigerian workers?”

The HDAN boss also chided the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, for giving up its primary responsibility of protection of citizens to prey on those, he said, ordinarily look up to it for solace, saying, “what we expect from the government is to come up with a scheme that will provide housing for those in the lower cadre of the economy, that is, the low-income earners; those they are approaching now to come and vote for them- instead of coming up with a secret plan of taking the money from poor people. This is not right.”

Adebayo said HDAN reliably gathered that the fund was borrowed to fund infrastructural development.

“We have been told that the bulk of the pension fund has been borrowed by the government to do infrastructure. Our NHF money is not for borrowing because it is from people who decide to own houses and they are providing the money for that purpose,” he added.

On the exact amount of money taken out of the fund so far, Adebayo said it is difficult to narrow it down to a specific sum because those in the know are on the run.

He said: “40 per cent is being deducted but we can’t tell the actual amount because those people who ought to give the figures are on the run. When we wrote the report yesterday (Sunday) and said they were deducting 45 per cent, they called to say it was 40 per cent.

“We have called on the government to recapitalize Federal Mortgage Bank to be able to perform its responsibility in providing housing under the National Housing Fund for these people but what we are getting is deduction. The NHF used to be domiciled in different Money Deposit Banks, MDBs, until the federal government gave instruction that every government agency must have an account with the CBN.

“That is why that money is in the care of the Central Bank today. But it is not for the government to borrow it or to take it because the purpose of that money is so serious and the people that are contributing to it who really need the help of the government are now suffering. You can’t take from people who need help from you.”