James Ojo, Abuja
Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige, and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have clashed over what transpired on the day the governing board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) was to be inaugurated.
Ngige, in a statement by a spokesperson of the Labour ministry, had accused the NLC of importing “thugs” to the inauguration of the board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).
The minister had refused to inaugurate the NSITF board for about two years.
Last week, Labour leaders mobilised to the inauguration venue after they had accused Ngige of plotting to replace Mr Frank Kokori, a former leader of the oil workers union, NUPENG.
Before then, neither the Labour ministry nor Ngige had announced that Kokori had been nominated by the president to head another board.
Regardless, on inauguration day, Ngige did not show up.
Thereafter, the ministry, through Assistant Director, Press, on behalf of Dr. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, Rhoda Iliya, alleged Wabba imported “violent thugs” to disrupt the event.
Besides, the spokesperson said the president had nominated Kokori to head NECA’s board; of which the inauguration would hold at a later date.
In his reaction yesterday afternoon, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, expressed his anger at the labour ministry’s statement about disrupting the inauguration.
Wabba, in a statement yesterday, described the allegation as unbelievable barefaced lies and also condemned the use of uncouth language to describe the leadership of labour and veteran labour activist, Chief Frank Kokori, more so that nobody was harassed nor manhandled.
“The attention of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has been drawn to a statement signed by Rhoda Iliya.
“The statement, which was filled with many unbelievable barefaced lies and uncouth language, alleged, among other things, that the inauguration had to be postponed “…to avoid the degeneration of the situation where thugs were already manhandling some officers of the ministry and policemen attached to the office of the minister.
“Continuing, the minister’s statement asserted that “the violent gate crashing and the illegal forceful seizure of the conference room of the minister, by thugs numbering hundreds and persons who clearly had no business with the inauguration of the board is totally unacceptable…
“We are left dumbfounded at the depth minister Ngige is prepared to go in lying to the nation and the world to cover his doomed plan to hoodwink Nigerians on his elaborate intrigue spanning three years to prevent the inauguration of the NSITF board.
“The antics of minister Ngige and his propensity for unabated obfuscation will not distract us from doing our duty in defending and protecting the rights and interests of our members, as these remain the basic raison d’etre for our existence as Labour.