By Etuka Sunday
Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Benjamin Ezra Dikki has disclosed that one of the reasons for the decision by the Federal Government to reform the Housing Sector was to ensure regulation as there is presently no standards in the sector.
Dikki spoke on Wednesday in Abuja at an interactive meeting with the umbrella union of workers of the Federal Housing Authority, the Senior Staff Association of Communications, Transport and Corporations (SSACTAC), an affiliate of the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
In a statement issued by the Head, Public Communications, BPE, Chigbo Anichebe, he noted that reforms would introduce regulation in the Housing Sector to ensure standards as is presently obtained in the telecoms, electric power and other key sectors of the economy.
According to him, the objective of the reforms of the Housing Sector in Nigeria was to ensure the sector becomes vibrant, utilizes local content and facilitate private sector investments.
He assured the workers that their interests would be protected in the cause of the reforms as the Government places high premium on workers’ welfare during reforms and privatization exercises.
The DG noted that government will and must always take cognizance of labour issues, hence the inclusion of labour leaders in the membership of the National Council on Privatizations (NCP) and the Steering Committee on the restructuring of the Housing Sector, which he said.
“is key in the growth and development of the nation’s economy”.
According to the DG, it was in keeping with the Government’s commitment to workers welfare that the entire proceeds from the privatization of the power sector ($2.6bn) and an additional N45bn
from the Federal treasury were committed to the payment of the entitlements of the former workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
He said the meeting with the Union Leaders was called to address the concerns of the workers on the Housing Sector reforms and to keep them on the same page with the Government.
Also speaking, the Acting Director, National Facilities and Agricultural Resources in the BPE, Dr. Vincent Akpotaire allayed the fears of the workers about the alleged outright privatization of the
He said the intended reforms of the FHA was for full commercialization that is meant to enable the entity attract funds for its operations.
Responding, the President General of SSACTAC, Comrade Mohammad Yunusa said that the FHA had in the past discharged its mandate satisfactorily but was presently hamstrung by poor funding.
He assured that SSACTAC was willing to partner with the Federal Government in addressing the estimated 17 million housing deficit in the country.
Yunusa noted that the cardinal objective of SSACTAC is to ensure that FHA survives, adding that the authority had to thrive to guarantee employment opportunities for its members He however suggested that instead of commercialization, the Federal Government should inject more funds into FHA to enable it execute its mandate as shelter was a statutory responsibility of the government.