James Ojo, Abuja
The minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, and the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) seem headed for a full blown war over his failure to inaugurate the board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), where a former general secretary of the Congress was earlier named board Chair.
The minister’s action had however pitched him against the Ayuba Wabba-led NLC, leading to accusations and counter accusations on both sides
To get back at Ngige, Wabba told the media at a briefing yesterday that the option left to the Congress to compel the minister to inaugurate the NSITF board was to picket him.
“Since Dr. Ngige has vowed to deploy every public resources possible to rob workers of a representation of the NSITF, we wish to announce our intention to meet him headlong. We will make the industrial space uncomfortable for him as we will picket him anywhere we see him,” he vowed.
He alleged that Ngige confessed to him and some people that his fear was the rigidity and incorruptible nature of Chief Kokori.
Wabba accused the minister of employing tactics to delay the inauguration by spreading falsehood to misinform the public on the reason why Kokori cannot chair the board of NSITF. On the way the appointment of Kokori came, Wabba said it was not true that he was chosen to represent the Labour movement, rather it was based on his personality and as a member of the ruling party’s Board of Trustees from Delta State.
He said it was Ngige himself who informed NLC of Kokori’s appointment as the chairman of NSITF board and wondered why he was being reluctant to inaugurate the board. Part of the delay tactics was the set up of an administrative panel to look into a criminal case already investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Meanwhile, Ngige, in reacting to the Organised Labour threat to confront him, yesterday, dismissed NLC’s plan as a feeble attempt to wriggle out of shame and illegality, and vowed to remain unshaken on the part of the law. The NLC can go ahead and picket the Ministry of Labour and Employment and allied interests a million times, but I want to assure them that Ngige will remain on the side of the law,” the Minister said in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Nwachukwu Obidiwe.
“All the tissues of lies wrapped in a desperate escape route to nowhere by Wabba has adequately been addressed variously. However, I wish to restate that the desperate moves by Ayuba and his co-travellers to impose their paddy-man as the chairman of NSITF will continue to flounder on the insistent knockings of reason as well as the stoic resistance of the Minster to illegality.
“Hence, we make it abundantly clear once more that the provisions of Section 4(a) of the NSITF Act is very clear on the sole responsibility of the Minister of Labour and Employment to nominate a neutral, fit and proper person for the approval of the president for the chairmanship of the board.