The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige yesterday told the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Adams Oshiomhole that he would not accede to his directive to inaugurate the boards of agencies under his ministry.
Ngige further stated that he was not oblivious of the fact that Oshiomhole is a very interested party in the matter, having served as chairman of the NSITF board in the past.
Ngige, in a letter to Oshiomhole, explained that he would not hastily take directives from the party chairman, but would abide by the directive issued by President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the head of the government.
The minister’s response to Oshiomhole came on the heels of the latter’s directive, shortly after his inauguration as the APC’s national chairman, directing the minister of labour and employment to immediately constitute boards in his ministry or face disciplinary measure from the party.
But responding to Oshiomhole in a letter, Ngige said: “Our National Chairman, I am in receipt of a letter referenced APC/NHDQ/GEN-S/28/018/003 dated July 11, 2018, which was sent from your Office and received by me on July 12, 2018.
“Ordinarily I would not believe the letter was from you except for the barrage of media statements that came before I saw the letter. I read the contents of this letter with both amazement and utter disbelief.
“Firstly, it is not true that I did refuse/neglect to inaugurate members of the re-constituted boards of parastatals and agencies under the supervision of my ministry as alleged in your letter. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment has four parastatals namely – the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), National Directorate of Employment (NDE), National Productivity Centre (NPC), and Michael Imoudu Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS). Boards of the latter three agencies have been re-constituted and members were inaugurated on March 8, 2018, in conformity with a presidential directive,” the letter explained.
The minister maintained that all the three boards are currently operational, saying the only agency left out was the NSITF, which before the directive, had been enmeshed in major issues of corruption, involving about N48 billion, comprising federal government and employers’ contributions to the employees’ compensation fund plus some non-remitted PAYE taxes, which were carted away through well perfected sleaze operation.
The minister further stated that given the high prevalence of corruption in the NSITF, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is already investigating the matter.
“I am sorry that I will be unable to accede to your ‘directives’ to inaugurate all the boards within one week as the ministry had already inaugurated the aforementioned three boards but will in this case of the NSITF adhere to the work plan on the NSITF as approved by the president who is the head of the government of the Federation’’, Ngige said.
“Based on this, be assured that the Board of NSITF will be constituted very soon, at most, before the end July 2018. I am not oblivious of the fact that you are a very interested party in the matter because having served as chairman of the NSITF board, before the last board and as a former Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) president, you would be interested in the tripartite colouration of the board being maintained more so as labour still remains your base constituency,” Ngige added.
Ngige added that the Administrative and Financial Panel of Enquiry has just concluded its work and presented its report.
He added, “The board will be in place very soon in order to assist the implementation committee that is being put in place by the ministry to effect the various policy recommendations that are aimed at sanitizing the agency and strengthening the very weak Internal Audit System that allowed N5 billion to be taken out of this organisation in one single day without voucher(s)”