By Victor Ahiuma-Young
The Federal Government has told the new management of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF, led by Dr. Michael Akabogu that it expects nothing other than a total re-birth of the Fund.
Recall that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, had sworn in Dr. Akabogu as the new Managing Director, Mrs. Akinwale Caroline Temitope as the Executive Director, Finance and Investment, Mrs. Maureen Allagoa, Executive Director, Administration and Gana Mudu, Executive Director, Operations following their appointment as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Also sworn in as nominal Directors are Mrs. Lauretta Adogu, Director, of the Department of Occupational Safety and Health, to represent the Federal Ministry of Labour and Alhaji Najeem Yasin – Deputy President, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, to replace the late Khaleel Ibrahim who died in October 2020.
Taking cognizance of incidences of mismanagement of funds that had bedeviled the operation of NSITF, Ngige implored Akabogu and his team to ensure a re-birth, saying: “I am confident that you can lead the charge of re-birth of the NSITF. This new management has one unique advantage, a defining shift, in having men and women who have been staff of this organisation rise to its topmost management positions. You know the problems of this organisation and I am confident that you can lead the charge of re-birth of the NSITF. This paradigm shift in structural composition must meet the huge expectations of positive shift in goal delivery.
“It is important for me to draw the attention of the new management to the financial hemorrhage the NSITF has passed through in the last few years and the imperative of a new direction as contained in the directive of the President. The NSITF must be revitalized and repositioned to fulfill its mandate in accordance with the establishing Act.
“The years of the Locust are now over. You can’t afford to take us back to Egypt. The era where N5 billion vanished in one day is gone for good. The era of looting of N48 billion without a single voucher is far gone. This new management should not indulge in the sins of the past and must adhere to the statutory conditions of service and remunerations for Board Members approved by the Minister as enshrined in the NSITF Act.
“Procurements must be done as contained in Procurement Act 2007 and Finance Act, Financial Regulation and the extant Government circulars especially on Threshold of Procurement items.
“Your performance will be measured every quarter and annually with the yearly reports and Audited Accounts to enable the Ministry do her own report to the President. Our measure as supervising Ministry is tied to your performance in terms of realisation of your mandate and vision.”
While admonishing them, he said, “on your shoulders lies the burden of untying this organisation from the tethers of stagnation. We must live down the past and lead a rewarding change in the fortunes of the NSITF.”
It would be recalled that on July 1, 2020, President Buhari approved the suspension of the former Managing Director, three Executive Directors and nine other senior management officers of the NSITF from office, following established prima facie infractions on extant financial Regulations and Procurement Act, and other acts of gross misconduct.
The President also approved the setting up of a Presidential Joint Board and Audit Investigation Panel to probe affected officers.
According to the minister, the investigation panel sat, completed its assignment, and made far reaching recommendations as well as steps for their implementation.
He said the highpoint of the recommendations which President Buhari approved, include the removal from office of the former officers earlier suspended in July 2020 and the structural changes in the management team.