Ngige under fire over NSITF crisis

 Minister of Labour and Productivity,  Chris Ngige,  has received  knocks over his alleged role in the crisis that is rocking the National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) 
Some stakeholders in the sector, who expressed concerns over the NSITF crisis, advised the Minister to take immediate steps to write the wrongs inflicted on the agency’s Board, Executive Directors, some Management staff and other stakeholders to save the organization from been further vandalized by some greed personalities who are not interested in the growth and sustainability of the parastatal because this is the only employees’ compensation organisation. 

The stakeholders in an open letter addressed to the Ngige and signed by one Mohammed Sule  observed that the minister’s image has dwindled because of his poor handling of the NSITIF saga of alleged fraud.

The aggrieved stakeholders who lauded achievement of Ngige as governor of Anambra State  regrets however  that the minister’s  corporate governance profile as illustrated by the shabby handling of the NSITIF has taken a beating and urged him to act fast to correct the perception. 

“The first breach of corporate governance standards you generously committed was the suspension of the EXCO and some management staff of NSITF on July 2, 2020 without recourse to the Board of the Fund, except only the Chairman, Prince Austin Enajemo-Esire, who you imported to replace Chief Frank Kokori, that you rejected.

” It is very wrong for a supervisory Ministry or a Minister to hijack the role of the Board, to the surprise of board members and stakeholders that are represented on the Board. This suggests impunity and supervisory rascality that do not have place in the corporate governance lexicon.

” Under the law, this action alone had rendered null and void the subsequent investigations you ordered, as the power to investigate the malfeasances of the Management, if any, resides in the Board, not in the Minister. It is appalling that the Board had to read your decisions and actions on the pages of newspapers, like other Nigerians.

” Where is this done in the 21st century? Also shocking was the fact that among the suspended were some believed to be high performing staff of the Fund. Secondly, that you cleverly roped the Presidency into this mess is the height of disregard to the highest office in the land. How may the Presidency that had issued clear directives through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) against arbitrariness of Ministers a month earlier turn round to endorse your unilateral suspension of the EXCO and eight management staff of NSITF. 

“It is not only illogical, it does not add up and, certainly, does not make sense. How the Presidency that advocates the rule of law may turn round to flagrantly work against its advocacy is puzzling? Even If it so happens under your watch, we expect a former Senator of your own standing to challenge it and correct it. Dr. Ngige, please, Nigerians seriously expect more than this from you.”, text of the open letter read. 

Having suffered injustices during his term as governor of Anambra State,  the stakeholders were appalled  that the minister was insensitive to  gross injustice he  allegedly meted out to the sacked NSITIF board and other stakeholders that suffered variously during the saga. 

” Your refusal to release the findings of the Report of the Presidential Joint Board and Audit Investigation Panel submitted few months ago clearly raises a lot of questions on the intent of your arbitrariness in the first place.

” If the investigations had been concluded and the report submitted, what is holding the release of the report? It stands to reason that if you rushed to the media to publish the news of EXCO and management staff suspension seven months, you should have, in like manner, promptly published the report of the investigation when it was submitted”, the group submitted. 

The group held that the recent action of the minister has detracted from his rating as governor and parliamentarian adding however  that it can be redeemed .” Indeed, the day is close by when both your supporters and your ‘opposers’ will determine whether you are still a good ‘market’. Now you have the chance to rewrite your history; the chance will not be there forever; do not bungle it.

“Concluding the advice for you, especially with regards to NSITF, is to cease operating the Fund as a sole administrator. It is high time you did everything within your power to right the wrongs by allowing an atmosphere of industrial harmony, after all to err is human. In the immediate, I advise that you:

“Engage with all the NSITF stakeholders that you have disregarded or threatened, with a view to working together with them to build the Fund;
“Recall the suspended EXCO and management staff, pay their entitlements and assure them that the system would be governed in strict adherence to the Public Service Rules and corporate governance best practice;
“Reignite the Board of NSITF and allow it to operate freely; and Guide the Chairman to reset board leadership with emphasis on influence and inclusiveness rather than might, divide and rule and exclusivity.

“If you take these steps, you would shore up your scorecard and rewrite your history on gold. The choice is yours”. The Presidency should come out clean on following due process and respect for rule of law. In Nigeria no individual should be allowed to oppress other citizen of the country because of political godfatherism and political connection. Every Nigerians should be allowed to live.

The minister should stop the use of office to oppress Nigerians who are doing their legitimate jobs.

The Presidency is hereby called upon not to sit on the fence because injury to one is injury to all. This government promised Nigerians accountability and transparency in all is operations.

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