A former labour leader, Mr Nana Takai has called for a review of the National Pension Act and National Housing Fund to ensure workers friendly policies.
Takai, the immediate past national chairman of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) made the appeal yesterday at the ongoing labour workshop organised by the Federal Health Sector Institutions of NANNM in Abuja.
The workshop has its theme as “Unionism and Professionalism in Nursing”.
He urged members of the association to liaise with the NLC for a review of the existing unpopular policies.
Takai frowned at the present Pension Act that denied workers their contributions immediately after retirement.
He further explained that based on the present Act, retirees were often compelled to take a percentage out of their pension contributions after six months to one year while the administrator would be in possession of large portion, describing it as unhealthy for retirees.
He emphasised that the Act should be made more flexible by ensuring that retirees have access to their full entitlement if they so desire and do whatever they intend to do with the money.
According to him, constitution of the country gives everybody the rights to own his property and invest it, but for the National Pension scheme, the entire money of workers are tied down to a particular group and deprive the retirees of their finances.
He said: “I will be very happy if the association can link up with Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and other labour unions to fight and make sure that the National Pension Act is reviewed in such a way that it gives option for individuals to either leave their money there or pick their money to invest.”
Takai called on the government to expedite action on the review of Pension Act to enable workers live a healthy and fulfilled life after retirement rather than struggling for a living due to lack of funds.
He further urged the association to liaise with NLC in ensuring that the National Housing Fund Act is made flexible in such a way to allow contributors access loan while serving to enable them own their houses.
According to him, at the moment, the housing fund cannot be accessed by workers until they have put in 35 years in service or when they have attained retirement age of 60 years.
“I advise the association to work hand in hand with the NLC to make the condition of the National Housing Fund very flexible for members to access loan and if they choose to retire before they can have their money so be it.
“But as it is now, you can only access your money until you have put in 35 years in service or you are 60 years of age which is not wise.
“I urge you to seek audience with the NLC to see if those areas can be touched or reviewed,” he said.
Earlier, Mr Wale Olatunji, national chairman of NANNM said the workshop was an induction course for the newly elected unit heads of the association to keep them abreast with the nitty-gritty of trade unionism and professionalism.
Olatunji, who identified the nursing profession as a peculiar trade union group, emphasised that the theme was selected for them to understand their responsibilities as professionals and their responsibilities as trade union group.
“So we deem it necessary that we equip them intellectually and broaden their horizon on their professional responsibilities and unionism,” he said.
He however ,advised them against allowing their union activities to infringe on their professional responsibilities, advising that they must abide by the ethics guiding the profession.
“Professional misconducts should not be misconstrued with unionism and the association will not tolerate or defend professional misconducts from anyone,” he said.
The chairman further urged them to unite in pressing home their demands, adding that the earlier they unite the more achievable the demands of the association becomes.
Expert Wants State Of Emergency In Housing Sector
The Chief Executive of Fesadeb Communications Limited, Mr Festis Adebayo, has called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the housing sector to address effects of population growth.
Adebayo, who was the convener of the just-concluded 13th Abuja International Housing Show, made the call in Abuja.
According to him, the population of the country is growing at a geometric rate, while the government is working at arithmetic progression.
He said the Federal Government’s efforts could not match the country’s population growth rate.
“The 18 million deficit cannot still be same, everyday we are increasing in number without increasing in ideas, policies and political will.
“The government should declare state of emergency in the area of housing; you cannot be selling cement for N2,500 and then ask one to deliver a house for two million naira.
“The cost of building is very high, so government should act now before it will be late, “ said.
Adebayo said that government should not be involved in building houses, but it should come up with policies that would encourage people to invest in the sector.
He advised relevant authorities to focus more on what is called “Rental Housing Scheme’’ which he defined as “own and pay accordingly” .
Adebayo also called on the government to ban importation of building materials to encourage the use of local materials.
The Tide that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Leilani Farha, had advised Nigeria to address its housing problem during her visit to the country. According to her, the United Nations estimates that Nigeria’s population will double by 2050 to around 400 million people to make it the world’s third-largest nation after India and China.
She said that there was lack of adequate housing in a country where most inhabitants lived on less than two dollars a day in spite of being Africa’s largest economy.
S’Africa APC Moves To Tackle Nigeria’s Housing Challenges
The South African Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has promised to work with President Muhammadu Buhari to solve problems of housing, healthcare and energy in the country.
The group, in a letter addressed to the President and jointly signed by Mr Bola Babarinde and Prof. Folorunso Fasina, respectively, said these were critical issues demanding urgent attention of the President.
A copy of the letter, titled “On the National Question: Critical Issues Demanding Urgent Attention of Mr President,” was made available to The Tide last Monday.
The group, which expressed pleasure in meeting with the President during his visit to South Africa, said that the low income earners and civil servants were hardly remembered by developers of mass housing schemes in the country.
“The issues of affordability hampers ordinary citizens from access to good housing and a recent research done for Niger State shows that most civil servants die a few years after retirement from active service.
“Life after service is hard because things change sharply post-retirement, including housing. The Diaspora can assist in the provision of quality and affordable housing for the low to middle income earners, particularly civil servants.
“Using modern technologies, we can provide housing solution through mortgage financing supported by single digit interest rates. Workers will have between 15 and 25 years to repay, depending on the years of service left.
“It will be credit to this government to provide housing solution and reduce the suffering of the people,” the group said.
On the health sector, the group said that the country was not doing well taking into consideration the flight of medical personnel and the amount spent on medical tourism to countries like India, South Africa, Egypt and UK.
The group said that Nigerians in Diaspora, especially professionals in South Africa, were ready to partner the government at various levels on healthcare (primary, secondary and tertiary) to confront the health issues.
They said that this would also include mentorship of young medical personnel, exposure to the state- of-art-equipment, information exchange and sustainable, but affordable medical missions and training.
The group added that infrastructure including roads, water, school buildings, hostels accommodation and other facilities also needed attention of the government.
Niger Earmarks Land For 200 Housing Units
The Niger State Government has provided land for the construction of 200 housing units to reduce the burden of accommodation among residents.
Managing Director, Happy Home Builders Nigeria Ltd, Mr Lukman Komolafe, disclosed this last Sunday in Abuja.
He said that the project was part of efforts by the state government to address the housing needs of residents of the state.
Komolafe said that the project, which started early in the year, would range from two bedroom bungalows to two bedroom compacts.
He said that the houses located along Madalla-Abuja road in Suleja would be completed by the end of the year.
According to him, the company was involved in building some housing units for cooperatives and groups in the state as part of effort towards addressing housing deficit.
Komolafe said that the company was known for its adequate and timely delivery of service.
“We are known for our excellence and professionlism with lot of commitment,” he said.
Komolafe said that housing was a crucial basic needs of every human being and so needed to be addressed urgently.
The housing estate which is an initiative of the Suleja Local Government Council and fully supported by the Niger State Government sits on 33.4 hectares of land with 371 number of plots with an average size of 450 square meters.
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