Staff welfare: OHCSF activates FISH Co-operative Scheme

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The Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federal (OHCSF) has reaffirmed its commitment towards the welfare of Civil Servants, which is one of the pillars of the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation plan 2021-2025 (FCCSIP-25), through the provision of affordable and ideal housing, using the FISH Co-operative Scheme.

The Permanent Secretary, Service Welfare Office, Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Ngozi Onwudiwe disclosed this at a one-day Sensitization Workshop organized by the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) Department for FISH Desk Officers in Ministries, extra-Ministerial Departments and Agencies (MDAs), as well as Civil Servants registered on the FISH programme with the theme: “Implementation of the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) Programme: Activation of the FISH Co-operative Scheme ” on Friday, 16th December, 2022  in Abuja.

Dr. Onwudiwe, who was represented by the Director, FISH, Mrs Uchenna Obi, in her address stated that the workshop will bring to fore a robust, inclusive and sustainable approach towards the implementation of the FISH Programme.

She added that the main focus of the workshop is to educate and enlighten members of the FISH Co-operative Society on the concept of an ideal Housing Co-operative and how to leverage on it to ensure that the housing need of members are met.

“All over the world, Housing Co-operative Societies play crucial roles in the delivery of affordable housing to their members by providing veritable platforms to aggregate funds and resources to achieve their mandates,” she noted.

Dr. Onwudiwe revealed that the FISH Programme, at inception, was designed to provide affordable housing for Federal Civil Servants through an integrated strategy involving group land allocation, inter-ministerial collaborations, provision of infrastructure, site services and, ultimately, the establishment of the FISH Co-operative Society, as a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the operation of the FISH Programme.

She further stated that the OHCSF, via the FISH Department, has made concerted efforts towards actualizing its mandate of affordable housing delivery to Civil Servants, through the Programme, which resulted in the commissioning of four (4) Housing Estates since its inception in 2015 and the delivery of houses in different locations within the FCT such as Kuje, Bwari, Karshi, Karu and Apo-Wumba to over 300 off-takers.

She, however, noted that the need to consolidate efforts and sustain recorded achievements necessitated the OHCSF to constitute a Committee to explore alternative sources of funding for the FISH Programme, apart from  loans from the Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board (FGSHLB) at 3% interest rate. One of the suggestions was the need to activate the FISH Co-operative Society, in line with global best practice for mass social housing development.

She also averred that the performance of majority of Co-operatives in the Public Service have been sub-optimal, with some enmeshed in corruption characterised by lack of transparency and accountability in their operations and as such, Public Officers seem to have developed apathy towards their activities.  There is, therefore, a need to raise the standard of co-operative practice through the FISH Co-operative Society by not only making the interest of its members a priority but also by ensuring transparency and accountability in all its processes and procedures.

She added that the workshop will avail the OHCSF, the opportunity to establish a workable framework for operationalising the FISH Co-operative and ensure that the major objective of initiating the Programme is fully realized.

The Workshop focused on the following thematic areas:
i. FISH Co-operative as a vehicle for addressing the housing need of Civil Servants,
ii. Housing Co-operative Strategies for Gaining Access to Construction and Mortgage Finance: optimizing the gains of an Ideal Housing Co-operative,
iii. The Role of FMBN in Funding Housing Co-operatives and
iv. Achieving Transparency and Prudent Management of Co-operative Resources

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