…slams labour leader for insisting on Kokori as board chair
…Says he won’t take orders from him on running NSITF
Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, on Monday took a swipe at Labour leadership for insisting on a particular individual as the chairman of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF, saying that the government was mindful of who should head the agency so that it does not die like the National Economic Reconstruction Fund, NERFUND.
Ngige, who has come under severe criticism by labour leaders for not inaugurating Frank Kokori as the chairman of the NSITF on April 18, 2019, said that the ex-NUPENG chief was never nominated by him as stipulated by the fund’s establishment Act to head the agency.
The minister also knocked the Ayuba-led NLC for hauling attacks at him over the botched inauguration and for insinuating that he was running the NSITF as a sole administrator, insisting that his only interest in the agency was to ensure that it continues to discharge its mandate to Nigerian workers and employers of labour.
He also condemned in strong terms the actions and utterances of labour leaders that they would not allow its two members nominated to the board of the NSITF to resume until Frank Kokori was inaugurated as chairman of the agency.
According to the minister, Kokori was never nominated by him as stipulated by the law establishing the NSITF to head the board, adding that he only showed magnanimity to the former labour leader by recommending him to head the board of the Ilorin-based Michael Imodu Labour Training Institute.
Ngige explained that the man that he actually nominated an expert on accounting and insurance based on the recommendation of the National Commission on Insurance so as to move the NSITF forward and reduce the level of looting there.
Ngige said: “I don’t take instructions from NLC and Ayuba on how to run NSITF. So, the blackmail and threats against me will not force me into taking suicidal actions against Nigerians.
“The action of the NLC in my office on April 18, 2019 is highly despicable and no amount of denial will erase the fact that they invaded my office with some strange elements to force me to swear in Frank Kokori as NSITF chairman.
“These people should kindly tell Nigerians why NSITF must be the only place run by Kokori. NSITF had been raped and rendered impotent and was about to die before Ngige revived it and made the workers and contributors to smile once again.
Ngige described as preposterous the claim by the NLC that he received a Sports Utility Vehicle from the NSITF and also carried out massive recruitment into the agency without following due process.
According to the minister, the only vehicle, which the NSITF loaned to the ministry, was for the use of the junior minister following the crash of the official vehicle, which also killed the former minister of state.
Ngige explained that the vehicle, which the NSITF loaned to the ministry for the use of the minister of state remains a property of the fund and would be returned once there was an official car for the minister of state and had never been used by him.
He accused the labour leader of making false claims on the employment of workers into the NSITF, explaining that the recruitment was duly approved by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Federal Character Commission and the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation as well as the National Assembly.
The minister also dismissed as untrue claims by the labour that NSITF fund belongs exclusively to NLC, TUC and affiliate unions, saying that the money is actually premiums by employers of labour to insure their workers against deaths and accidents in the course of their work and not contributions by TUC and NLC.
“The truth is that the money in NSITF is public and private sector contributions of which the federal government, which owns 42 percent of the premium, is a major contributor. The federal government has just released N1.5 billion as its first tranche of quarterly contribution while other government agencies like FIRS, NDDC, FAAN and NCS pay directly to the fund,” Ngige said.