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Letter to Dr Chris Ngige

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Dr. Chris Ngige

DEAR Dr Ngige,

I write with pain in my heart as someone who invested so much emotions on you when you had your ordeals as Governor in Anambra State in the hands of godfathers. I remember a medical doctor from Anambra State who is my friend telling me then that anybody who knows you well would understand what you were going through.

He said you were ready to present yourself almost like a house-help to your godfather at the time when you sought power only to raise your hands up immediately you got what you wanted. I told him that the office you occupied deserved some respect which I felt your godfather was violating notwithstanding all the Okija indignities.

My initial idea was to bring to the attention of Chief John Nwodo all the disturbing reports I am hearing lately. Chief Nwodo is one of the finest Nigerians I have worked with in recent years to reconstruct the country and repair Igbo-Yoruba relationship.

I cannot forget the two nights I spent in his country home in 2018 during which he recalled the experience of how he was elected the president of the University of Ibadan Students Union as an Igbo student over a Yoruba opponent.

He remembered with fondness the Yoruba lady on his campaign train who went to Zik Hall to canvass for support and some wild boys started pouring water on her. She stood still as she was being drenched. At a point the boys became guilt-stricken and stopped pouring water on her; but the first words from her lips were: “Vote John Nwodo”.

They became lovers but the opposition to inter-ethnic marriage stood on their way. A relative showed up in court in London to inform that they needed parental consent to get married. They succumbed to this social pressure at a point and had to go different routes in marriage. But as fate would have it, down the line they both lost their spouses months apart.

Dr Ngige, it appears you have been working against the great work we have been doing over the years to build an inclusive country with your alleged conducts in office. I was shocked when a friend told me recently that you approached him to join your campaign for 2023 presidency. What leadership do you want to provide that is different from what we are complaining against if you cannot dispute the following figures of appointments in the Ministry of Labour under you?

SUMMARY OF RECRUITMENT FROM 2016-18 REGION BY REGION

Total recruited in 2016=143

Total recruited in 2017=137

Total recruited in 2018=330

Total from 2016-2018=610

 

North Central =77

North East =94

North West =88

South East =189

South-South =89

South West =73

 

A breakdown of 2018 alone shows the following:

Total recruitment in 2018=330

North Central =52

North East =36

North West=48

South East=91

South-South =53

South West =50

(Anambra alone had 50 from South East)

Where is any sense of equity in all these?

You have also been in the news lately for the purported dissolution of the NSITF by the President only for the fact to come out that you exercised the power you don’t have to unilaterally dissolve the management, bypassing the board and office of the Secretary to the Federal Government.

It was a balanced statement by NECA that faulted your step in a very clear manner as follows:

Suspension of Top Management of NSITF – An Abuse of Processes: NECA Urges Respect for Corporate Governance and Rule of Law

 Following the announced suspension of the top management and executive committee of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF, by the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, NECA, urges caution and respect for rules, Civil Service procedures, the enabling Act governing the Fund.

Speaking in Lagos, the Director-General of NECA, Dr. Timothy Olawale, stated that: “We received with shock the news of the purported suspension of the top management and Executive Committee of the NSITF on the basis of a prima facie infraction on the Financial Regulation and Procurement Act, apart from other gross misconduct actions.

Our shock was premised on the fact that all known decorum, rule of corporate governance and well-publicised disciplinary procedures approved by the President and released by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, which was put in place to stem the arbitrary removal of Chief Executive Officers of Government Agencies and to ensure stability in the system were totally disregarded.”

The NECA DG averred that: “The Board of the Fund was duly constituted and inaugurated by the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment in line with the enabling Act governing the NSITF and activities of the Board.

As such, observed acts of misconduct in the Fund ought to have been brought to the knowledge of the Board for necessary actions as it unfolded. The Board to which the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, NECA, and other statutory Institutions like the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC; the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, etc., are members, were not aware of any of the claims made by the Minister as a subject before it.”

READ ALSO: Ngige inaugurates panel to probe alleged N3.4bn NSITF fraud

Speaking further on the right course of action, Dr. Olawale expressed that “in the spirit of appropriateness and respect for the rule of law and directive by the President as contained in Government’s Disciplinary Circular as released by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Honourable Minister ought to have referred the matter through the Permanent Secretary to the Governing Board (which is still in existence), for necessary action in line with the relevant provisions of the Establishment Act and the Principles guiding Chapters 3 and 16 of the Public Service Rules.

The Governing Board would then follow due process, issue relevant officers queries requesting explanations on the specific acts complained about, and then forward its findings and recommendations to the Hon. Minister for further consideration and necessary action. It is then that the Honourable Minister can recommend to the Government (the President through the SGF, as the case may be for necessary action. This time-tested and institutionalised procedure was not respected nor acknowledged.”

While urging respect for the principles of corporate governance and the rule of law, Dr. Olawale advised that “the NSITF should not be run outside the laws that established it. It is our candid opinion that the purportedly suspended top management be allowed to continue their lawful duties and the observed infractions on the Financial Regulation and Procurement Act and every other act of gross misconduct in the Fund be referred to the duly constituted Board for attention and appropriate action, pending the conclusion of the Audit by Bureau of Public Enterprises and the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation.

Concluding his remarks, the NECA Boss noted that “member-companies represented by NECA are the major contributors (of over 90% of the NSITF revenue) to the fund, thus, we owe our nation and constituents the responsibility to ensure that right things are done under our watch. We have no doubt that the Honourable Minister will respect these positions of NECA as it is in tandem with the avowed commitment of the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari to respect the rule of law.”

There have been so many other allegations coming out of all these such as nepotism, cronyism and insertion of “lover” and personal interests. And the minister has also been accused of inflating the budget of NSITF.

Where is integrity in all these?

You need to come clean of the serious allegations that have come against you in this saga not only for your rumoured interest in the highest office in the land but for the integrity of the office you presently hold.

With highest regards.

Yinka

 

FEEDBACK

Re: NDDC house of scandals

Dear Yinka,

Thank you for your write-up on the above subject. I have been thinking of words to qualify the level of scandals in NDDC after reading your piece. Words like monstrous, hydra-headed, octopus-shaped and indescribable scandals came to my mind. The trouble with NDDC is the same “trouble with Nigeria.”

This is a country where numerous projects awarded by this organisation are abandoned half-way and nobody is brought to book. Ours is a country where NDDC contractors execute substandard projects and are paid fully. One example will suffice. The street where my apartment building is located was tarred between March and April 2019. When the rains increased in May the same year, the tarred road packed up. Today, we are worse off. The flood has taken over the road because the gutters are too narrow and shallow for the water to flow.

What went on in the past and presently in NDDC and other government establishments can be described as the   unmaking of a nation. Sometimes, I ask myself what these looters will do with the billions of naira and dollars while Nigeria their country is the world headquarters of poverty. This behaviour has gone beyond greed.

Nigerians are watching the drama: the denials and counter-denials presently going on during the investigation of NDDC by the National Assembly. We have not seen any thing yet. When the National Assembly and the forensic audit reports are out,  we will see that the words raised above to describe the scandals in NDDC are mild ones.

It is a pity that some Nigerians who are placed in public offices to uplift the masses end up becoming modern day slave masters and oppressors of the people they should help. Let the looting of NDDC and other aspects of our common wealth continue. What gives me some peace of mind are that: Firstly, no looter takes his or her loot to the  great beyond. Secondly, the  masses will one day say “Enough is enough.” That day is already here.

Tony O. Ekwe

VANGUARD

 

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