Kaduna State workers have rejected move by the government to sell ‘non-essential’ residential quarters to public servants and the general public, saying the decision was without recourse to all relevant stakeholders in the state particularly, workers, who they say are creators of wealth and legal occupants of the properties.
The state government had advertised an invitation to bid and approved guidelines for the public auction of state government residential quarters to public servants and the general public. The move to sell off 1,990 government houses according to reports was to cut the cost of maintaining the quarters as endorsed by the State Executive Council.
Speaking on behalf of the workers, the Chairmen of Kaduna State chapter of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC); Comrade Adamu Ango and Comrade Shehu Mohammed respectively said that the proposed sale of residential quarters is meant to favour political office holders .
“It is unfortunate that the civil servants working for the state and who are currently occupying these quarters were never given option of first refusal before the extension of offer to the general public.
“Another area of concern is the public servants who receive peanut as salaries and wages when compared with those of the political office holders of the state. Also, payment of 25 percent of purchase price including 10 percent non-refundable deposit must be made to the state government within 90 days of being declared winner and balance of 75 percent be paid by all purchasers within an additional 90 days. From the above condition, which civil servant of the state can afford this payment,” they queried.
They also noted that the condition is contrary to the provision of the Federal Government Mortgage Bank arrangement of issuing loans to civil servants from all over the federation.
Meanwhile, the state government stated that government residential houses exempted from the sale include Governor’s guest houses at Alimi and Race Course roads; Deputy Governor’s houses at Tafawa Balewa way and Lamido road; Chief Judge’s guest house at Yakubu Avenue; Speaker’s guest house at Shehu Crescent and institutional quarters of all hospitals, schools and other related facilities in the state. Under the bidding process as advertised, all houses occupied by public servants will be sold in an open auction whereby all residents of the state shall be given equal opportunity.
The highest bid price will then be offered to the public servant in occupation to exercise the right of first refusal by effecting payment of 10% non-refundable deposit within 14 days but if the public servants fails to exercise the right of first refusal, the preferred bidder will be allowed to complete the transaction.
Under the auction process, no housing unit will be sold below the reserved price; being in the open market value of the property. The preferred bidder will be determined by a simple evaluation of the highest bid submitted and the bid bond will immediately become a 10 percent non-refundable deposit towards purchase of the property. Payment of 25 percent of purchasing price including 10 percent non-refundable deposit must be made to the state government within 90 days of being declared winner while balance of 75 percent must be paid by all purchasers within an additional 90 days.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai also said the sale is about raising money to develop infrastructure as well as build other houses for all residents of Kaduna State. He said the government has about 36,000 civil servants and only about 2000 are currently accommodated in government houses.
“These 2000 houses cannot satisfy 36,000. Secondly, there is nowhere in the world where this system of giving civil servants houses operate. We have moved away from that. What you should have in place is a mortgage system where anyone with an income will be able to buy a house and pay over 20 years,” he said.
But the workers while decrying the proposed sale of the buildings, asked the state government to borrow a leaf from the federal government’s monetization programme which gave workers who are legal occupants of government houses an unconditional right of first refusal.
When interviewed, the managing consultant of Babs Abdulraheem and Co., Estate Surveyor & Valuer, he suggested that since government has concluded plans to sell the properties, it should give the sale a human face by considering the plight of the civil servants whom he said might have contributed their services to the state’s development.
He argued that with the meager salary they earn, it would be difficult for them to afford the properties on open market value. He further advised government to work out mechanism that would enable the civil servants buy the houses at a reduced or subsidized rate and if possible provide soft loan to civil servants to enable them buy the property with ease.
“For those who are about to retire, the money can be taken from their pension and gratuity. Allowing the civil servants to lose out on the purchase of the properties may lead to social problems in the sense that they will become homeless and this is capable of reducing their commitment to work,” he said.
On the value of the properties, he said that property values are determined by factors including economic factor, location, size and the physical property per se.