The minister of labour and employment, Dr. Chris Ngige has told the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Adams Oshiomhole that he would not inaugurate the boards of agencies under his ministry as he (Oshiomhole) directed.
The minister’s response came in the wake of Oshiomhole’s directive to Ngige to immediately constitute boards in his ministry or face disciplinary action from the party.
It would be recalled that Oshiomhole had, shortly after he became APC chairman wrote to Ngige and the minister of state for aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika to inaugurate all boards under their ministries within seven days face sanctions from the party.
In a letter dated July 11, 2018 and addressed to the ministers, the APC chairman berated the ministers for failing to reconstitute the boards, which according to him contravenes the position of the National Executive Council and the Presidential directives to all Ministers, describing it as a great disrespect to the party.
“This is to inform you that the attention of the national working committee has been drawn to your refusal to inaugurate members of the re-constituted Boards under the supervision of your Ministry.
“This contravenes the position of the NEC, national caucus and the presidential directives to all ministers to inaugurate boards of parastatals under their ministries. We find this attitude as disrespect to the President and disservice to our great party.
“The party will henceforth no longer tolerate any appointee of government at all level who continue to willfully disregard lawful instructions from either the government or the party.
“In the light of the forging, you are hereby directed to inaugurate all the boards under your Ministry within one week, failure of which the party will take appropriate disciplinary measures against you,” said Oshiomhole.
Ngige noted his response that he was aware that the APC chairman “is a very interested party in the matter, having served as chairman of the NSITF board in the past.
Nevertheless, he said he would not be stampeded by Oshiomhole stressing that he would take directives from the president who is the head of government.
“Our National Chairman, I am in receipt of a letter referenced APC/NHDQ/GEN-S/28/018/003 dated July 11, 2018, which was sent from your Office and received by me on July 12, 2018.
“Ordinarily I would not believe the letter was from you except for the barrage of media statements that came before I saw the letter. I read the contents of this letter with both amazement and utter disbelief.
“Firstly, it is not true that I did refuse/neglect to inaugurate members of the re-constituted boards of parastatals and agencies under the supervision of my ministry as alleged in your letter. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment has four parastatals namely – the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), National Directorate of Employment (NDE), National Productivity Centre (NPC), and Michael Imoudu Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS). Boards of the latter three agencies have been re-constituted and members were inaugurated on March 8, 2018, in conformity with a presidential directive.
“All the three boards are currently operational, saying the only agency left out was the NSITF, which before the directive, had been enmeshed in major issues of corruption, involving about 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,” said Ngige.
He also stated that given the high prevalence of corruption in the NSITF, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was already investigating the matter.
“I am sorry that I will be unable to accede to your ‘directives’ to inaugurate all the boards within one week as the ministry had already inaugurated the aforementioned three boards but will in this case of the NSITF adhere to the work plan on the NSITF as approved by the 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 July 2018. I am not oblivious of the fact that you are a very interested party in the matter because having served as chairman of the NSITF board, before the last board and as a former Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) president, you would be interested in the tripartite colouration of the board being maintained more so as labour still remains your base constituency
“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 that allowed N5 billion to be taken out of this organisation in one single day without voucher(s),” he added.