Legalise, don’t demolish FCT settlements – Ajaero tells Wike

…Commends ASURI for Housing initiative

By Chris Udochukwu

The President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajaero, has advised the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Nyesom Wike, to encourage the home owners in the communities where people live to regularize their documents and desist from deriving pleasure from demolishing houses.
Speaking in Abuja during the signing of memorandum of understanding between A. G. Mortgage Bank Plc and the Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI) for the provision of affordable houses for members of the union, Comrade Ajaero said Nigeria is the only place where the government does not have health and housing programmes for the generality of workers and will go ahead to demolish the alternatives which people have made for themselves.
“I honestly think they should legalize those areas where workers are operating rather than demolishing them,” he said, adding: “All those places they call slums, where people made provision for themselves about where to stay, Wike is seeing as illegal. He should add value by legalizing them even if temporarily for those people until such a time when the government is able to provide alternative for them.”
The labour leader said with a minimum wage of N30,000, it is unlikely that the average Nigerian worker will be able to own a house after working for 35 years and if he struggles to build one with his retirement benefit, the government comes to demolish it. This, he said, is wicked.
Ajaero commended the leadership of ASURI for initiating the idea of affordable houses for researchers and advised other unions to emulate the worthy initiative. He thanked A. G. Mortgage Bank Plc for taking up the challenge of partnering with the union to actualize their dream, adding that he hoped the houses would be truly affordable.
Speaking at the ceremony, which took place at Transcorp Hilton Plc, the Managing Director of A.G Mortgage Bank Plc, Mr. Ngozi Anyogu, also commended the leadership of ASURI for having the interest of its members and the generality of Nigerian workers at heart and assured that his company was well poised to deliver affordable houses.
Mr. Anyogu said, “What other sets of people or entity that will be better for us to start this journey other than ASURI, which is an elite group within the NLC because when you talk of research, you are talking about what people in the academics called ‘egg heads’ and if they had considered the offerings that the bank is providing and they signed on and bought into it, then every other person should be ready to follow.”

The A. G. Mortgage Bank Plc Chief Executive added: “Not only are we talking about delivering houses, we will also deliver affordable homes. It is intentional that we have Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) represented at this ceremony because FMBN has been an entity in the forefront of provision of affordable housing in this country with the cheapest interest pricing window.”
He said A.G Mortgage Bank has been a partner amongst the first three Mortgage institutions that are partnering with FMBN.
In his remarks, the Secretary General of ASURI, Professor Theophilus Ndubuaku, said the MOU signing ceremony was a dream come true for the leadership of the union, which had been having sleepless nights on how to provide an affordable housing scheme for its members.
He said the plan was to commence the housing scheme with FCT as pilot before going nationwide to every place where Nigerian researchers are located. He added however that the dream was to provide affordable housing scheme not only for researchers but also for the generality of Nigerian workers.
Professor Ndubuaku said it was a rare occurrence for both Ajaero and NLC General Secretary, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboajah, attending non-NLC events together but that the importance of the housing project and the value the labour centre attached to the scheme was what made the two of them to be at the event in spite of their busy schedule.
The ceremony was also attended by the National Coordinator/Chief Executive Officer of Strategy Implementation Task Office for Presidential Executive Order No. 5, Engineer Ibiam Oguejiofor, who canvassed that the scheme should be extended to the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, as well the Vice President of ASURI, Comrade Kassim Izebe, signatory to the MOU.
Others in attendance were two Deputy Generals Secretary of NLC, Comrade Chris Uyot and Ismail Bello, NLC Head of Information, Comrade Benson Upah, a representative of the Director General of National board for Technology Incubation (NBTI), Dr. Patricia Uchenna Chukwu, and Chairman of National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) branch of ASURI, Comrade Femi Lalemi, among others.

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