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N960BN SCANDAL: Subscribers fight back over NLC’s botched housing scheme

All seems not too well at the Abuja La­bour House of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) headquarters as subscribers to the N960 billion workers housing scheme flagged off in May 2013, have threatened a showdown with the coun­try’s number one labour centre over failure to fulfil its promise to contributors.

At the centre of the crisis is a botched N960 billion work­ers housing estate created to resolve the shelter challenges of Nigerian workers across the country. But the scheme, which hitherto had raised the hopes of workers is currently being threatened because two years after its conceptualisa­tion, the project is yet to take off.

The fear of the workers may have further been com­pounded as NLC plans to hold its National Delegates Conference this week (Feb­ruary 9-12), to elect new of­ficers to steer its affairs for the next four years, thus bringing an end to the Abdulwaheed Omar-led executive.

It is believed among the subscribers that if the issue was not resolved before new executives are sworn in, they might deny knowledge of the transaction and in the end leave the poor subscribers to carry their cross.

When they responded to public advertisements by the NLC inviting prospective homeowners to buy into the scheme, their desire was a roof over their heads, which they could call their own. With NLC’s pedigree and assurance, thousands staked their fortunes.

The scheme was launched during the May 1, 2013 La­bour Day celebrations to construct about 300,000 new housing units to cater for workers’ housing needs na­tionwide.

The Memorandum of Un­derstanding (MoU) by the partners stipulated that NLC would provide the land for the project as well as ensure there were off-takers to subscribe.

The real estate developer, Kriston Lally Plc, was to take care of funding through financiers identified abroad; build the houses by providing designs and building plans as well as secure development approvals from the relevant authorities.

The various house types attracted different price tags, ranging from N4.6 million for one to two-bedroom de­tached and semi-detached bungalows to N6.5 million for three-bedroom bunga­lows, and N18.5 million for four-bedroom fully detached bungalows.

Speaking on the botched housing scheme, the Coordi­nator, Aggrieved Subscribers, Mr. Oluwole David, said it was regrettable that two years after the conceptualisation of the scheme, the site of the project was not yet known talk less of commencing work on it.

David disclosed that over N4 billion has been contrib­uted so far by workers to the botched housing project, al­leging that NLC has deceived Nigerian workers in subscrib­ing to the failed project.

The Coordinator lamented that NLC that ought to be an advocate of peace, protecting workers against extortion and victimisation has now turned around to mete out injustice to the same set of people it claims to be protecting.

However, in a swift reac­tion, NLC Vice President, Mr. Issa Aremu, admitted that the scheme ran into some hitches but promised Nigerian work­ers that the issue would be looked into before NLC be­gins its National Delegates Conference this week, with a lasting solution proffered.

Recall that NLC had in a statement by Omar in Sep­tember 2014, said it was working with relevant agen­cies to ensure that subscrib­ers, who might have been ma­nipulated into paying money into wrong accounts in the NLC–Kriston-Lally Housing Project, were protected.

Omar, advised workers who subscribed to the project “that we are doing everything possible to secure your inter­ests,” declaring that “all funds deposited in the advertised NLC–Kriston-Lally account” were safe and secure.

“My only attraction to subscribe to the project was the association with NLC,” a disgruntled Tunde Aboaba, one of the subscribers to the housing scheme said.

According to Aboaba, a pri­vate businessman, he saw the flier promoting the scheme in September 2013 and was in­stantly attracted to it.

“The offer was irresist­ible,” he said. “Contribute 10 per cent of the value of your choice house, by December 2014, you are handed the keys to your new house, while you settle in to pay off the out­standing balance over two to 10 years at an interest rate of six per cent per annum.

With that, Aboaba mobil­ised his entire savings total­ling about N900,000, to pay for a three-bedroom bunga­low. Now, for close to two years, neither the house, nor the money is forthcoming.

“If Nigerians cannot rely on the credibility of NLC, who else would they turn to for hope?” Aboaba lamented, almost in tears.

Like over 3,269 others, Udo Iloh, Country Head, Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Ni­geria Office, could also not disguise his anger and disap­pointment over the turnout of events.

“This is the height of disap­pointment that the NLC could be involved in this kind of arrangement where helpless workers have been scammed.

“People signed on to the scheme because NLC’s name was attached. If nothing hap­pens and my money is not refunded, I will definitely go to court over the matter,” he warned.

 

(Culled from http://sunnewsonline.com)http://sunnewsonline.com

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