Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has said he is not afraid of suspension in a party in which he is a founding member.
He was responding to the threat issued by the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, that if he did not inaugurate the board members of federal agencies and parastatal under his ministry, he (Bgige) would be suspended from the party.
The parastatals and agencies are the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), National Directorate of Employment (NDE), National Productivity Centre (NPC), and Michael Imoudu Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS).
The APC National Chairman had said, on Monday, that the APC under his leadership, would not continue to tolerate ministers who abuse their office and disrespect President Muhammadu Buhari by refusing to carry out his directives.
He dared Ngige not to comply within the stipulated time and see if he would not be suspended and thereafter, sacked from the federal cabinet.
Ngige, who had earlier faulted Oshiomhole on the constitution and inauguration of the board members of federal agencies and parastatal under his ministry, when approached by our correspondents in the Council chambers of the Presidential Villa, before the commencement of the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, said the APC National Chairman was talking out of ignorance.
He maintained that the Board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), was yet to be inaugurated because of reports of diversion of funds to the tune of N48 billion.
When asked when he was going to comply and if he was not afraid of suspension from the party, Ngige said, “How? In a party that we formed and brought them in? The man is talking out of ignorance. I’m not afraid of suspension.”
Ngige had, in his written response earlier, explained why the Board of NSITF was yet to be inaugurated. He said: “Our National Chairman, I am in receipt of a letter referenced APC/NHDQ/ GEN-S/28/018/003 dated July 11, 2018, which was sent from your office and received by me on July 12, 2018.
“Ordinarily, I would not believe the letter was from you except for the barrage of media statements that came before I saw the letter. I read the contents of this letter with both amazement and utter disbelief.”
The minister said he had reconstituted three boards of the four agencies and parastatals under his ministry, but has not been able to constitute the board of NSITF because of cases of financial malfeasance, which have put the agency under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).