…Civil servants yet to get land, houses 7 years after
House ownership in Nigeria is one of the most challenging aspects of an adult’s life, with the country suffering a housing deficit of over 22 million and efforts by both the public and private sectors to bridge the shortfall over the years have been fruitless.
Zuwairat Asekome, a Bayelsa resident, thought her dream of owning a house in Abuja would come true when she saw an advertisement from Brains and Hammers Group, a leading estate developer in Nigeria, calling for subscribers to invest in their City Estate, in Life Camp, Abuja. But five years after she completed paying N11.9 million for a two-bedroom terraced duplex, she said she is yet to get the keys to her house.
According to her, she applied for the housing scheme and started paying in early 2017 and by July 2018, she had finished paying.
She said, “When I finished paying in 2018, I thought maybe by July of the following year I would get the house. I got the documentation, but there was no house. They said they would give it to us before the year ended, but 2019 finished and we didn’t hear from them. So I decided to go there, and they told me that I shouldn’t worry, that they would send me a letter.
“After a while, around 2021, they gave me a relationship officer that would be updating me, and he kept sending me a building at the foundation level.
“Eventually, by December 2022, they sent me a letter saying that it would take 19 months to give me the house that I finished paying since 2018.
“So it has been one thing or the other, they will just give you one excuse to keep you from disturbing them. When that time comes, they tell you something else; it’s just crazy.”
She added that, through her, two of her colleagues also subscribed to the housing scheme, but that they also have the same sad story to tell.
Asekome, however, said in the letter sent to her by the Brains and Hammers company secretary, Barr. Abubakar Sheidu, the estate firm cited the challenges of fixing the estate’s infrastructure, the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent hyperinflation which led to the high cost of building materials and the nature of the terrain of the project site which has led to them reclaiming vast portions of land.
Two other subscribers, who also invested in the Brains & Hammers City Estate, said they had similar experiences with the real estate development and infrastructure firm.
The subscribers, who do not want to be named, said they completed paying N16.8 million for a four-bedroom terraced duplex over four years ago, but they are yet to get their property.
Efforts to speak with the management of Brains and Hammers were unsuccessful, as all calls to their official line were dropped.
When our reporter contacted Hafiz Hussein, the relationship officer of Asekome, he asked him to meet him at the estate’s office in Life Camp, but when the reporter went there, he was not around.
He asked one Salome to speak with our reporter, but she said the issue was beyond her and referred it to the customer service manager, who kept the reporter waiting for over two hours.
He later collected the phone number of our reporter and said he would call him, but he never did.
Similarly, civil servants have continued to protest over a housing scheme at Apo-Tafyi, Abuja, where they have subscribed for 1000 units but are yet to get even the land, seven years after.
A group of civil servants under the umbrella of FGN/NLC/Workers Housing Scheme, during a press conference on Wednesday, said they were made to subscribe to 1, 000 housing units since 2014, but almost 10 years after, they are yet to get land or a house.
Mr Abasi-Ubong, spokesman of the group of aggrieved workers, said in 2014 the federal government, represented by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)/Trade Union Congress (TUC), signed a memorandum of understanding with a property developer, Goodhomes Development Company Limited, to deliver 1,000 units of houses to Nigerian workers within one year.
He said, “On the strength of the involvement of both NLC and TUC, hundreds of Nigerian workers subscribed to the scheme by making upfront payments in various forms, ranging from 10 per cent to 100 per cent down payments,” he said.
He said the workers, who subscribed to the scheme, were expected to take out mortgages from the Federal Mortgage Bank and other mortgage institutions to offset the full payment of the housing units. He added that the first phase of the project was expected to be delivered in December 2015.
He said since 2014, when they subscribed, they have neither been given the land nor their money refunded to them, a situation that resulted in a peaceful protests they embarked on to draw the attention of the relevant authorities to their plight.
All efforts to speak with the NLC spokesman, Mr Benson Upah, proved abortive as he told reporters, “I am in a programme. I can’t hear you,” and switched off his phone.