There seems to be a battle for supremacy between the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige and the Managing Director of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Bayo Shomefun. So intense is the battle that the duo are currently literally flexing muscles in public.
The minister fired the first salvo when he suspended the NSITF boss and other 11 officials, but reacting to the development, the NSITF managing director said the minister lacked the powers to sack the leadership of any parastatal.
Furthermore, NSITF management in a press statement, Thursday in Abuja, said such order did not emanate from President Muhammadu Buhari.
The statement read in part: “The Management of NSITF read the press release published by some media outfits that the President has suspended the management of NSITF and announced the same.
“We wish to state that President Muhammadu Buhari has not suspended the management of NSITF and did not make such an announcement. The person mentioned in the media report is not a staff of the President.
“For clarity, we need to mention that we received a letter from the Hon Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, stating that he is doing a procurement audit on NSITF and that Management is suspended.
“We note that the Minister’s action is against President Buhari’s directive through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation that stated clearly that no minister should suspend or sack any head of agency appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The memo stated that Ministers should follow procedures by going through the governing board of the agency that will now make recommendations to the SGF to act if there is need. We are sure that President Buhari will not be part of any illegality and lack of due process.
“Meanwhile, the management of NSITF is open to any form of investigation by the appropriate agency as there is nothing that the management will hide or is hiding.
“We have been in receipt of several letters by the minister and several petitions written against NSITF by the Minister of Labour, Sen Chris Ngige and we will make all communications available to the public and relevant authorities. The Management of NSITF is still discharging its duty as appointed by Mr President.”
National WAVES gathered that the minister and the NSITF boss had been having a surreptitious cold war over some issues that the management felt did not follow due process.
The NSITF management accused the minister of grounding the activities of the NSITF since October last year because the management refused to dance to his tunes.
Some of these issues at stake include the minister’s appointment of a Board Secretary who was not a lawyer, and against the NSITF Act.
“The minister singlehandedly retrieved NSITF budget and used his hand to re-write the budget and submit it himself. The procurement audit is currently ongoing, it started on June 29, to end on July 3rd. So, why the suspension,” said a top official of NSITF who craved for anonymity