Ngige under fire over NSITF management’s suspension

Ngige under fire over NSITF management’s suspension.

Minister of Labour and Productivity Senator Chris Ngige on Tuesday came under the hammer of the House of Representatives for suspending the management of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF). in a “draconian’’ manner.
The House alleged that Ngige unilaterally took the illegal action to pave the way for him to implement the NSITF 2020 budget.
Ngige’s ministry and its Power counterpart were also not spared the hammer by the Lower Chamber of the National Assembly which raised a committee to probe alleged breach in procurement procedures, financial malpractices and malfeasance against them and the NSITF.
These were the highlights of a debate on a motion by a member of the House, Leke Abejide, titled: Urgent motion on the incessant and arbitrary breach of Presidential directives on the suspension of top management and executive members of the NSITF.
Ngige has been at logger heads with the suspended Adebayo Somefun-led management of the NSITF over alleged financial infractions and breaches of procurement processes
Abejide, in his lead debate on Tuesday, frowned at the rate with which chief executives of government agencies were being sacked or suspended by ministers without recourse to laid down procedures.
He told the House that no minister was procedurally empowered to suspend or remove the executive of any agency under any guise.
The lawmaker accused Ngige of constituting himself into” the sole authority, thereby bypassing all the procedures as approved by Mr. President to ‘convey the suspension of the NSITF officers.”’
He  argued that the  flagrant disobedience of presidential directives as witnessed recently with the actions of Ngige  and his counterpart in the Power Ministry, Saleh Mamman, left  room for   breaches of laid down rules and ran  against laid down procedures.
Abejide stressed that the rate at which chief executives of agencies were being removed was worrisome .
His words: “This is not good for us and is also not good for him as Minister of Labour, who is supposed to be the custodian of the workforce. But, he is now the one showing bad example to others. If this is not stopped, it will get to a level that we will not be able to control it again.”
Chairman, House Committee on Finance, James Faleke, accused Ngige of altering the NSITF budget by inserting projects alien to the suspended management.
He specifically mentioned a N2 billion commission on statutory remittances to the NSITF by employers and purchase of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs), which they also refused to implement.
Faleke said: “The Minister of Labour and Employment, who is supposed to mediate between employees and employers is single handedly taking decisions without recourse to procedures.
“The issue is that the agency (NSITF) has a board and if there is need for disciplinary action, the resolution of the board must go to the minister and from the Minister to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation before decision is taken. Even when the resolution of the Board comes, the minister has no power to issue such a letter. It is only the SGF (Secretary to the Government of the Federation) that has such power, having taken instructions from the President.”
Faleke argued that it was obvious that Ngige has abused his office and should be relieved of his position.
“The minister inserted a N2 billion commission project in the budget as commission for collection. This has never happened in that agency. He wanted the management to be out of office so that he can implement that budget. So, he removed all the people who were against that decision and left it to the people who never knew about the argument between them.
“The  moment the 2020 budget was approved, he felt that he will not have control over the budget if these people remain there and he felt that the only way out was to remove them. That is the crux of the matter.
“This same minister inserted four SUVs in the 2020

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