Lagos State Assembly is set to repeal an existing law on housing for the state public servants to address accommodation problems.
To achieve this, the House organized a public hearing on Friday, November 5 on “A Bill for a law to repeal and re-enact the Lagos State Goverment Staff Housing Board Law and for Connected Purposes.”
In his keynote address during the hearing, the Speaker of the House, Rt Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, who his Deputy, Hon Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni, represented, said that for the state public servants to perform effectively, there was a need for the welfare of the staff in which housing played a key role.
“For them (public servants) to be diligent and efficient, there is need for adequate and systemic support like in terms of education, health, housing etc.”
He pointed out that there was, therefore, the need to provide loans that would be affordable to assist the public servants in securing accommodation.
While giving the overview of the Bill, the Leader of the House, Hon Sanai Agunbiade, said section 2 specifically talks about the objective of the law, which “to administer a housing loan scheme as well as allocate and mange residential staff quarters to the State public officers, in order to ameliorate the impact of housing deficit on public officers in the State.”
In section 18 of the Bill, “the amount of loans that may be granted to any public servant to purchase land or build a house shall be seven times the public servant’s annual salary or a maximum amount as contained in the Second Schedule to this Law.”
Also speaking, the State Head of Service, Mr Hakeem Muri-Okunola, explained that section 3 (g) of the Bill stipulated a representative of the State Joint Negotiating Council to be appointed by the Head of Service into the Board should not be misconstrued.
He argued that the Council members would have to select a representative who was to be approved and subsequently appointed as a member of the Board.
While speaking on the ongoing deduction of public servants’ salaries for the National Housing Scheme, the HoS said, “it is not an arbitrary decision; it is something we jointly agreed upon after a series of stakeholders engagements.”
He added, “the scheme is a national programme for civil servants to provide housing, saying Lagos civil servants should not be left out of the opportunity.”
Chairman of Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), Lagos State chapter, Comrade Adele Adewale, had faulted the membership of the composition of the Board.
He argued that the representative of the Joint Negotiating Council to be appointed into the Board should be appointed by members of the Council instead of giving the power to the Head of Service.
The Secretary of the Association of Civil Servants in Lagos, Comrade Hakeem Kazeem, had also pointed out that the salary of civil servants in the State did not commensurate with the proposed housing loans.
According to him, “the 300,000 or 400,000 they want to give as loan cannot buy a land in Lagos not to talk of building House. I’m appealing to the government to assist on what can be done.”
A civil servant in the House of Assembly, Mr Kolapo Adeniran, called the attention of the gathering to the monthly deduction of their salaries through the national housing scheme.
He stated that “I’m confused, suddenly under my pay slip, they are just deducting NHS every month without asking us whether we want to belong to the scheme or not.”
Chairman of the House Committee on Establishment, Training and Pensions, Hon. Oluyinka Ogundimu told newsmen that in line with the tradition of the House, the repealing of any law could come at any given time.
Ogundimu, who represents Agege Constituency II, said all the contributions provided at the hearing would be thoroughly examined to re-enact law that would serve the interest of the public servants in the State.