Unable to inaugurate the controversial board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) in his office due to Labour disagreement, Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, on Monday performed the ceremony under tight security at the presidential villa, Abuja.
Leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had kicked against the minister’s insistence on Austin Enejamo-Isire as the chairman of the board against their preferred choice, Chief Frank Kokori, an ex-President of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG).
Amidst demonstrations by Labour activists around the Federal Secretariat in Abuja, the minister presided over the administering of the oath office on the chairman and members of the board in the well-secured Banquet Hall of the presidential villa.
Speaking at the occasion, Ngige noted that the previous board and the management of the NSITF left negative trails inimical to development and progress for both the human and infrastructural components of the agency.
He said: “The criminal investigations by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and the subsequent Administrative Panel of Enquiry investigations revealed financial atrocities that would go down the annals of the history of the NSITF as shameful and monstrous.
“At a time, the national dailies and social media were agog with the news of corruption and deep sleaze by some members of the previous Board in collusion with some top Management Staff of the Agency who aided and abetted the looting of both Government and Private Sector Funds of about N48 Billion from the N62 Billion contributions between 2012 – 2015 of the NSITF.
“This resulted in about four Board Members including the last Chairman being arraigned and charged to court by the EFCC.
“Some monies have been paid back to Government Treasury and about 37 Houses are now under forfeiture.
“The Administrative Panel report also indicted some Board members and NSITF Management Officers. The affected Officers have now been shown the way out, and many more indicted Officers by the Auditor General’s Periodic Report on the NSITF will soon be made to refund the monies illegally taken from the Fund.
“The Auditor General of the Federation (AUGF) had to be requested by us in 2017 when it became clear that there was no Audited Account for the place for five years, past to undertake the Constitutional periodic check.
“The Administrative Panel also made some far-reaching recommendations towards making the NSITF financially viable and plugging all the loopholes exploited by some members of the last Board.”
The minister revealed that a lot of recommendations have implemented to restructure and reposition the NSITF especially strengthening the Financial and Audit points of the Fund through some strategic staff deployment.