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