By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA- A Civil Society Organized, CSO, under the aegis of Citizens Watch Advocacy Movement, CWAM, has advised President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Ayuba Wabba to stop annexing the Labour platform and essence of labour unionism for ‘narrow, personal gains.’
The group through its President and Secretary, Mohammed Ibn Yunusa and Mark Ekine respectively described the alleged replacement of Comrade Kokori with a chartered accountant, Insurance and Taxation expert, Austin Enajemo-Isere as an impeccable choice, and a resounding vote for merit at a time competence was in shackles of national neglect.
The group in a statement said, “It is high time selfish interests gave way to the interest of the nation. NSITF is a specialized agency which must be managed in line with the agenda of the Buhari administration.
“The current administration from our investigation inherited an NSITF with the bastardized procurement process. The NSITF in which N62 billion was eaten by locusts. An agency in which N5 billion disappeared in a single day without vouchers. An agency that could not pay the salaries and allowances of its staff, an agency some of whose regional and branch offices such as the ones in Rivers, Imo and Jigawa were shut down for non-remittance of taxes. It was an NSITF whose staff members stagnated for six years without promotion that Buhari inherited.
“In that respect, we wish to state that with non-professionals currently serving as the Managing Director and Executive Directors of the NSITF, the appointment of a thoroughbred professional as the Chairman of the Board must be applauded by all Nigerians except those who are enemies of the nation.
“Kokori is no doubt a foremost labour leader and activist, a patriotic Nigerian whose contributions to the cause of democracy cannot be written off but we are talking of the NSITF whose fortunes slid so badly, that it needs professional repositioning by a board chairman with a sound pedigree in allied professions. The choice of Isere is by this fact unimpeachable.
“A time is here therefore for Nigerians to urge the NLC President, Ayuba Waba to cease annexing the vehicle and essence of labour unionism for selfish pursuits.
“One wonders why Ayuba lost his voice when N62 billion developed wings under the last NSITF board in which NLC was fully represented? In that period when the ship of the NSITF floundered on the rock of incompetence and squandermania, where was Ayuba?
“What muted Ayuba’s voice as he came on board as the NLC President and saw the scandalous pillage at the NSITF ? Does that ominous silence confirm whispers in some circles that oozing filth from the fund conducted to the sponsorship of his election against Ajero in the then NLC?
“Did Ayuba closely or remotely benefit from the malfeasance of that locust years that he spiritedly fights the enthronement of competence in the NSITF while covertly and overtly seeking to pocket Trust Fund Pension by frustrating and preventing new directors from the NSITF including its Managing Director from taking their positions on the board?
“Indeed, the fact that the NLC President is fighting the Minister of Labour and Employment for recommending the appointment of Kokori as the Chairman of Micheal Imodu Institute of Labour Studies, a Diploma Awarding Institution, where his mine of knowledge in labour activism will be made available for the present and future generations of labour enthusiasts clearly exposes an ulterior motive.
“Importantly, it’s opportune that Ayuba is educated that the NSITF fund is not “workers’ money” as he has ignorantly been selling to the public. The fund does not subsist on workers’ salaries.
“It is rather an equivalent of insurance premium, contributed by employers in the private and public sectors for the benefit of both the workers and the employers. Any worker who suffers injury or death in the course of work, as well as his employer, has equal right to seek indemnity from the fund.
“We hence invite Ayuba to properly read the provisions of the Employee Compensation Act 2010 setting up the agency so as to not mislead Nigerian workers or misinform the public at large. One of the banes of leadership in our dear nation is the dying culture of readership. Most of our leaders neither read nor employ competent people to read for them.”
The Group further commended the Delta State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for being dispassionate and on the side of the truth on this matter, arguing that “after all, both Kokori and Isere are all Delta indigenes.” Did Sen. Ngige nominate an Igbo to replace Kokori? No.
“We finally wish to point out for the records that neither the chief executive nor the chairman of the board of the three parastatals under the Ministry of Labour, namely NSITF, National Directorate of Employment (NDE) and the National Productivity Centre(NPC) is Igbo, contrary to what obtains in most of the agencies, yet Ngige has raised no hoot as a patriotic Nigerian. This is the way to lead.”