Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Minister for Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has claimed the suspended management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) awarded 332 contracts worth about N4.448 billion in one day, two days after his exit as minister in 2019.
Ngige, who stated this, yesterday, when he appeared before the House of Representatives adhoc Committee, also accused the management of allegedly mismanaging N48 billion without paying workers salary.
He explained that the NSITF management was suspended for committing about 74 different infractions.
According to him, some of the infractions included alleged extra-budgetary spending, making payment for unapproved expenditure, overspending on administrative issues, irregular direct payment from the Employees Compensation Act, irregularities in staff group assurance policy and making payment for Assurance policy without a policy cover.
Ngige also accused the suspended management of allegedly engaging solicitors without the approval of the Attorney General of the Federation and making payment to the tune of N33 million to the solicitors also without the approval of the AGF.
The minister, while insisting that he did not breach any presidential directive in respect of the NSITF, assured the lawmakers that members of the suspended management will be given fair hearing.
“In 2018, I put up an implementation committee from the ministry to implement both the Auditor Generals special periodic check and the report of the Administrative Panel of Enquiry headed by the then Permanent Secretary – Mrs. Ibukun Odusote. By the time she was redeployed from the Ministry of Labour and Employment in November 2018 to Ministry of Environment, my instructions on the implementation for the two reports on NSITF, to the best of my knowledge, did not receive attention from the NSITF management. All attempts and directives to NSITF even at the ministry top management with parastatals to get the NSITF respond was futile till we went for the general election and I exited as minister May 29, 2019. Of course, they celebrated the exit but all these were captured in my handover notes to the prospective new minister of labour and employment.
“To make matters worse, when I came back in August 2019, reappointed as minister of labour and employment, right from the 2020 budget defence and their 2019 budget performance, I realised that instead of making amends from the earlier Auditor General’s report, matters have worsened. I, therefore, sought the help of the Auditor General of the Federation and the DG Public Procurement as there was a bazaar of NSITF contract documents being hawked at Wuse and Maitama Abuja for “prospective contractors” on payment of 25 per cent of contract paper value.”