Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) yesterday performed the official ground-breaking ceremony of 116 housing units under the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) Programme in Gwagwalada, Abuja.In his address, the minister said civil servants were a critical component of development in Nigeria, stating tha it is why the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is paying special attention to their housing needs.

He reeled out many policy efforts being carried out by the present administration, which he argued are targeted at uplifting the welfare of civil and public servants in Nigeria to make them comfortable enough to perform optimally .

Some of the initiatives, according to the minister, include the federal government’s support for states to clear their salaries liabilities; civil servants salary review; pension reforms and the removal of equity contribution of the Federal Mortgage Bank (FMBN) housing loan of below N5 million for civil servants.While commending the ministry’s public building and housing directorates for their commitment in securing the land and development of the site’s master plan and infrastructure, the minister stressed that the government will continue to take the wellbeing of its employees seriously.

He assured the Gwagwalada community of government’s continued effort in developing the area, citing the recent tax credit policy investment on infrastructure, and the Abaji- Lokoja road among some of the benefits the area had derived from the current administration.Earlier in her keynote address, the Head of Service of the Federation , Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan thanked the ministry for providing the expansive land in a prime area spanning five hectares.

The HoS described the ground-breaking event as a watershed moment in accelerating attainment of government’s agenda of ensuring the welfare of civil servants through the provision of affordable housing.She added that the programme was conceptualised as a vehicle to address the current housing deficit faced by civil servants consequent upon the monetisation policy that saw the selling of government’s quarters across the country .

Meanwhile, Fashola has handed over the intervention project to tackle the gully erosion in Ugbowo and construction of the connecting road at the Ugbowo Campus , University of Benin, Edo State .“It is true that a lot of work needs to be done in many sectors of our national life , including education. The Buhari government has stepped up to lead the process of getting that work done,” he stated.

Before the completion of the project, some staff and students residing close to the Ugbowo Campus of UNIBEN and residents in Iguo-Osagie and other surrounding communities in Uhunmwonde Local Government Area of Edo were about to be cut off because of the ravaging gully erosion in the area, a statement by the Director, Press, Blessing Lere-Adams, said.

The Edo State Controller of Work, Dr Aransiola Ademola, who represented the minister at the event said the structural work and the water drainage were professionally done and the filling of sand was about seven metres high.Vice Chancellor, UNIBEN, Prof. Lilian Salami in her remarks said the gully erosion had taken its toll on critical areas of development of the university over the years.

“The good news is that we made our pleas and cries to government and the pleas have received the desired attention of government and we are today savouring the result of a government that listens and acts .

”Kudos must also go to our worthy alumnus of the University, Fashola, for his commitment to the successful implementation of the project,” she added.The Executive Officer, Edo State flood Erosion and Watershed Management Agency, Dr Tom Obaseki, expressed joy at the project and pledged the support of the state government to such endeavours.