By Chesa Chesa
After several false starts, the Board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) was inaugurated on Monday morning at the Presidential Villa by Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, who admitted that the journey had indeed, been tortuous.
Inaugurated as Chairman of the Board was Mr. Austin Enejamo-Isire, a chartered accountant and banker, whose nomination cancelled that of the earlier choice, veteran labour activist, Frank Kokori, to the chagrin of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
The NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, had been engaged in a war of words with Ngige over the displacement of Kokori. The feud degenerated to disruption of an earlier scheduled inauguration ceremony at the Minister’s office and the picketing of his residence by members of the NLC.
The Presidency stepped in at last to clear the air and broker peace, issuing a statement on Sunday confirming Enejamo-Isire as the duly nominated chairman as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Despite its opposition to the Isire-led Board, the NLC was represented at the inauguration ceremony by Comrades Waheed Adeyanju and Ibrahim Khaleel.
In his remarks, Ngige recalled the fraud uncovered under the past NSITF Board and being investigated by anti -graft agencies, hence the need to appoint a new set of board members.
He charged the new appointees to leave the day-to-day running of NSITF to the Executive Directors, and not award contracts or review upwards their remunerations and allowances by themselves.
Nonetheless, the Board should always be made aware of whatever the Tenders Board of the NSITF was doing, in order to enhance checks and balances in the system.
The Minister commended the current management of the NSITF, led by Barrister Adebayo Somefun, for improving the fortunes of the Fund and implementing its statutory mandate, but enjoined it to work in harmony with the new Board to continually improve staff welfare and other indices needed to make the Fund function optimally.