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Ngige set to inaugurate NSITF board soon

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige has set the end of July to inaugurate the board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).

This was contained in a letter dated July 17 with a reference no. ML.HMO/LAB/126/III/208 written to the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole. The Minister claimed that the board of the NSITF was not inaugurated on March 11 alongside that of National Directorate of Employment (NDE), which he Chairs, National Productivity Centre (NPC), and Michael Imoudu Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS) due to allegation of about N48billion financial impropriety levelled against some immediate former members of the board.

He explained: “The only Agency left out was the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) which before the directive, had been enmeshed with major issues of corruption involving about Forty Eight Billion Naira (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. This resulted in the Agency coming under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigation/prosecution of members of the former Board and some of her serving Officials.”

While admitting that Oshiomhole would naturally have an interest as a former NLC President and also ex chairman of NSITF board, Ngige observed that information in the possession of EFCC, the Auditor General of the Federation’s ‘spot check’ of an organisation with an Account that has not been audited for five (5) years (2013 – 2017), is not within his purview as a chairman of a political party.

Sounding satirically, Ngige went ahead to explain why the so-called ‘directive’ by Oshiomhole to him to inaugurate the NSITF board could not be implemented thus: “I am sorry that I will be unable to accede to your ‘directives’ to inaugurate all the Boards within one (1) week as the Ministry had already inaugurated the aforementioned three (3) Boards but will in this case of the NSITF adhere to the “work plan” on the NSITF as approved by Mr. President who is the Head of the Government of the Federation. Based on this, be assured that the Board of NSITF will be constituted very soon, at most, before the end of July 2018.”

However, Ngige was quick to observe that with the administrative panel completing its assignment, all is set for the inauguration of the board.

“I wish to assure you that the Administrative and Financial Panel of Enquiry has just concluded its work and presented her Report today. 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,” he stated.

President Muhammadu Buhari had last August approved the appointment of former General Secretary of NUPENG, Frank Kokori as the Chair of the board with Deputy President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Peters Adeyemi, Treasurer of NLC, Khaleel Ibrahim, representatives of Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Managing Director of NSITF and the Permanent of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment who represents the Ministry on the board as board members of the NSITF.

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