Benjamin Dikki, director-general, Bureau for Public Enterprises, says the lack of standards and the need to ensure proper regulation are the reasons behind federal government’s reforms in the housing sector
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Sep. 22, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT |
LACK of standards in the housing sector has become a source of concern to the federal government. This concern has prompted the government to initiate reforms in the sector to ensure its proper regulation and institution of standards. Benjamin Dikki, director general, Bureau of Public Enterprises, said the current government reform processes in housing would also replicate the kind of regulatory mechanism in the telecoms, electric power and other key sectors of the economy.
Speaking in Abuja at an interactive meeting with the Senior Staff Association of Communications, Transport and Corporations, SSACTAC, an affiliate of the Trade Union Congress, TUC, and the umbrella union of workers of the Federal Housing Authority, Dikki said the objective of the reforms was to further ensure that “the sector becomes vibrant, utilises local content and facilitates private sector investments.”
Dikki also assured the workers that their interests would be protected in the cause of the reforms as “government places high premium on workers’ welfare during reforms and privatisation exercises.” He stressed that government would always take cognisance of labour issues, hence the inclusion of labour leaders in the membership of the National Council on Privatisations, NCP, and the Steering Committee on the Restructuring of the Housing Sector.
According to him, it was in keeping with the government’s commitment to workers’ welfare that the entire proceeds from the privatisation of the power sector $2.6 billion and an additional N45 billion from the federal treasury were committed to the payment of the entitlements of the former workers of the defunct 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.
On his part, Vincent Akpotaire, acting director, National Facilities and Agricultural Resources, in the BPE, allayed the fears of the workers about the alleged outright privatisation of the government entity. He said the intended reforms of the FHA were for full commercialisation that was meant to enable the entity to attract funds for its operations.
In his response, Mohammad Yunusa, president general, SSACTAC, said 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 was to ensure that FHA survived, adding that the authority had to thrive to guarantee employment opportunities for its members. He, however, suggested that instead of commercialisation, the federal government should inject more funds into the FHA to enable it execute its mandate as provision of shelter was a statutory responsibility of the government.