- The recent controversy in the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) has been in the news recently
- The issue has attracted the attention of the Civil Society Groups for Good Governance
- The foremost civil society group has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to call Dr Chris Ngige to order
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A group, Civil Society Groups for Good Governance (CSGGG) has condemned the recent controversy in the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), accusing the minister of labour and employment, Dr Chris Ngige of circumventing President Muhammadu Buhari.
On Thursday, July 2, media reports suggested President Buhari had approved the indefinite suspension of the managing director/chief executive of the NSITF, Adebayo Somefun.
The report also said the president approved the suspension of four directors of the agency - Jasper Ikedi Azuatalam, Olukemi Nelson and Alhaji Tijani Darazo Sulaiman.
In a swift rebuttal, the management of NSITF in a statement said that President Buhari did not suspend any management staff and accused Ngige of overreaching himself.
Dr Ngige is under fire for his role in the NSITF controversy. Photo credit: Presidency
“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 an agency appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari," part of the statement read.
Briefing journalists on Saturday, July 4 in Abuja, the convener of CSGGG, Comrade Ogakwu Dominic, described the minister's action as an unpatriotic act.
His words: “Due process has to be followed in this process. You can not dismiss people without giving them a fair hearing.
“Whatever committee set-up should be independent, not man-Fridays of the minister. The minister is taking advantage of his position.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene and give the NSITF management the opportunity to defend themselves and not be forced out of office.”
According to him, “the present management of NSITF has performed creditably well within three years to improve on what they met on ground.”
He added that the management structure at the NSITF “should be returned to the status quo ante to further enrich Nigeria on the culture of performance and excellence.”
He said the present management of the NSITF has “consolidated on the achievements of the previous administration while improving upon existing systems.”
“The industrial relations atmosphere which was hostile and explosive before they assumed office due to low staff morale is now generally peaceful.
“The backlog of staff salaries owed were cleared and all allowances and arrears wed from year 2012 have been paid up to date.
“The management has also implemented public procurement guidelines to promote transparency of procurement operations.
“Also, a total of 225 trainings were carried out, while 4,987 staff have been trained nationwide and there have been robust monitoring and evaluation of regions and branches with the provision of vital working tools for staff,” he added,
Dominic noted that Ngige crossed the line with his proclamation, stressing that the recent position of Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation, bars cabinet ministers from removing heads of agencies and parastatals they supervise.
“Ngige's action, which does not have the backing of the president, has now brought to fore the minister's disobedience to statutory laws,” he noted.
The group called on President Buhari to intervene in the controversy “in order not to allow lawless appointees rubbish and embarrass his administration.”
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Meanwhile, the appointment of 12 non-career ambassadors have been renewed by President Buhari.
A presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, in a statement on Thursday, July 2, said, the appointments were made following recent complaints that some states were not captured in the earlier appointment of 41 non-career ambassadors.
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