Posted by UMORU HENRY, Abuja on
THAT the Federal Government is currently selling its houses occupied by civil servants in the Federal Capital Territory is no longer news.
THAT the Federal Government is currently selling its houses occupied by civil servants in the Federal Capital Territory is no longer news. This is because, besides the vigorous public campaign on the exercise that is headed by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and Chairman, Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the committee has also carried out two auction sales with public participation in preparation for the third one.
The arrangement to sell the 30,000 hosing units designated as non-essential to the conduct of government business according to the authorities is against the backdrop of the adoption of global best practices of operational and logistic efficiency in the form of monetization policy with particular emphasis on housing and the general strategic underpinnings of its National Economic and Development Strategy(NEEDS) programme.
In order to achieve result and make the exercise smooth , the FCT that is saddled with the responsibility of selling these houses constituted an Ad-hoc Sale Implementation Secretariat(ASIS) in the office of the FCT Minister. A technical Committee chaired by the Executive Secretary of FCDA was also put in place to deal with issues of enumeration, valuation, property boundary definition and beaconing that will facilitate the sale implementation. Above all, the committees will enable the minister in turn give progress report to the Federal Executive Council(FEC). At the announcement of this initiative by the Federal Government, civil servants in Abuja saw it as an opportunity for them to own houses of their own.
This was an opportunity Nigeria workers were looking up to against the backdrop of Abuja, the Federal Capital City where the cost of accommodation has become a very serious problem following the demolition of places like Idu Kharimo, Chika and plans to pull down Pykasa, Aleita, Kuchigoro, Galadima and other places where the low class and the bulk of those struggling to survive and to make a living for themselves live.
The first public auction was held September 30, 2005 while the second took place two months after. The third is slated for tomorrow. These government houses are located in Maitama, Asokoro districts, Wuse, Garki, Nyanya, Apo, Kubwa and other places in the FCT. When the Federal Capital was moved from Lagos to Abuja there was urgent need for the government to put in place structures that would accommodate the teeming civil servants whose services would be required to make the dream of the government having a new capital city a reality.
The houses were built but with the governmentís new economic policy and reforms, a decision was reached that the monetisation policy be implemented. That became a pivot for the sale of government houses in the capital city through a competitive bidding process with the highest bidder getting a house.
The El-Rufai-led committee, in line with the Federal Governmentís directive, issued some guidelines for the exercise which include mandatory non-refundable fee of N10, 000 for the sale of application form, 10% draft of the value of each house paid by public servants and the search for one of the designated banks to fund the remaining with deductions from the public servantís salary by the bank.
At the start of the exercise, approved N1.2 billion for survey, beaconing and other miscellaneous expenditure. The committee has so far realized N7.75 billion from the sale of the houses in the two rounds of auction. The N1.2 billion approved by FEC was spent on logistics leaving a balance of N6.5 billion. Out of this, N4.7 billion representing 75% has been remitted to the Federal Government, while the outstanding balance of N1.8 billion is still in the FCTA accounts.
The N1.2 billion spent on logistics, the committee, through Dr. Abdul Muktar, special assistant to the minister on economic matters and Amina Salihu, special assistant to the minister on information and strategy, told Sunday Vanguard, is expected to be passed on to the buyers which will be returned to the Federal Treasury once it is recovered from them at the close of the exercise.
According to the committee, a total of N265million was realized from the sale of application forms, N6.4 billion from the 10% of the value of each house by each applicant and N383million and N704 million raised respectively from the two public auctions.
Muktar that 19,100 letters of offer had been issued to civil servants, just as he said the figure represents over 80% of the offers available for the 32,000 housing units due to be sold, while 16,000 civil servants had paid the 10% mandatory initial payment for the houses, adding that 20,000 letters of offer had been personally released by the Minister.
As the exercise enters its third bidding tomorrow, the FCTA said the payment of the initial 10 % does not qualify a bidder as the rightful owner until the FCDA confirms that complete payment had been made.
On whether the government was mindful of the pains civil servants were going through against the backdrop of the economic situation in the country, the high cost of the houses and the fact that they may not be able to pay in full in good time, the FCTA told Sunday Vanguard that was the rationale behind the floating of a N100 billion bond through the Federal Mortgage Bank (FMBN)as a back-up facility for public servants interested in purchasing their houses.
Salihu told Sunday Vanguard that eleven banks had fully come on board and were prepared to loan over N7 billion to interested civil servants out of the N100 billion earmarked for the sales as the first instalment.
There were also complaints from civil servants of prices given to them not tallying with what is given to others in the same flats and blocks. A civil servant who lives at Block 9, Flat 2, Gado Nasko Road, Kubwa Phase 1V, speaking the minds of many other civil servants in the FCT, complained that while he is being asked to pay N1,230,600 for his flat, his colleagues living in flats 3 and 6 on the same block were asked to pay N700,000. But the FCTA said these problems had not only been taken care of, but will not rear their heads in preparation for the third auction.
A civil servant who gave her name as Mrs Ekanem commended the Federal Government for the programme that would enable civil servants who never thought of owing houses in Abuja boast of houses of their own having served the government for the better part of their lives, but warned that the government must ensure that the entire exercise was as transparent as the government wants every one to believe.
While some civil servants reportedly sold their allocation papers following their inability to pay the initial 10% of the purchase price or the balance, others, as gathered by Sunday Vanguard, are trading with their letters of offer. Another group of workers use their payment slips as bargaining weapon in selling their houses in choice areas like Maitama, Asokoro, Apo , Wuse and Garki to the high and mighty. Some have asked that the period given by the government to pay for the houses be extended especially from the point of view of civil servants just coming from Christmas and New Year celebrations and parents having school fees to contend with.
The minister has said that all complaints will be routinely looked into to ensure that all stakeholders are carried along, just as he said the FCTA was working in accordance with the guidelines adding that the committee would submit a final report to the president by June. El-Rufai explained that a projected sales target of over N100 billion was still feasible.
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