The Presidency has waded into the disagreement between organised labour and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, over the leadership of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).
The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba had accused the Minister of replacing the name of Comrade Frank Kokori with Austin Enejamo-Isire’s, as chairman of board of the NSITF.
The labour union had last week blocked the entrance of the Abuja residence of the Minister while violent clashes erupted between people suspected to be the minister’s loyalists and the affected labour officials.
However, a statement by Mr. Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, in Abuja on Sunday, clarifies the disagreement.
The statement reads in part: “Following the disagreement between the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment and the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress over the appointment of the chairman of the board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, the Presidency wishes to clarify as follows:
“A. That the NSITF is a hundred percent, Federal Government of Nigeria owned insurance parastatal, under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, designed for the role of insuring workers (employees) in the public and private sectors.
“The organization is empowered by law to implement the Employee Compensation Act (ECA) 2010 with mandate to insure workers and pay them compensation for accidents, deaths and injuries in the course of work.
“The NSITF was bedevilled and riddled with corruption between 2012 – 2015, which resulted in a colossal loss and mismanagement of about N48 billion out of the total N62 billion contributions during the said period.
“These were contributions by the Employers – viz government and the private sector for payment of compensation to workers and even to Employers for loss of man-hours by their workers.
“This fraud has been investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the last chairman and some members of the former board and some officials of the NSITF are presently being prosecuted by the EFCC.
“All actions taken by the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment towards the resuscitation and repositioning of this ailing agency, including the Administrative Panel of Inquiry into the affairs of NSITF and the suspension of the inauguration of the board in 2018 were part of the special work plan approved for the Honourable Minister by Mr. President.
“The appointment of the Chairman of this board, which is in consonance with Sec. 4(a) of the NSITF Act CAP N88 of 2004 was also approved by Mr President since 23rd July, 2018 on the recommendation of the Hon. Minister.
He added that Austin Enejamo-Isire was the approved Chairman of the board and was set for inauguration at Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Monday.
“Mr Austin Enejamo-Isire, a Chartered Accountant, Fellow, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and renowned Insurance expert, Senior Member, Chartered Institute of Insurance of Nigeria (CIIN), Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) and Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) was approved by Mr President for this position.
“Members of this board are to be formally inaugurated at 9 a.m. on Monday, May 13, 2019 by the Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Aso Rock, Abuja,’’ it further stated.
On Kokori, it said, “Comrade Frank Kokori , our respected veteran labour leader has Mr. President’s immense respect and has also been appointed on the recommendation of the Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment to chair the board of Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS), a diploma awarding labour institution.’’