Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidency has backed Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, over replacement of ex-labour leader, Frank Kokori, as head of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) with Austin Enajemo-Isire.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement described the move as part of the special work plan approved for the minister by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said Buhari is deeply concerned with events that culminated in a skirmish at the private residence of the minister.
The president, in the spirit of reconciliation, appealed for calm from the NLC, the ministry and employment officials, assuring that there were ongoing efforts to reconcile all the parties involved, including the minister, who the presidency noted has doggedly been fighting the cause of Nigerian workers whenever their issue is discussed by government, the latest being the enactment of the new National Minimum Wage Act 2019.
Ngige has been having a running battle over the replacement of Kokori with Enajemo-Isire, with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the latest being the picketing of his house by the union for which he has threatened to sue for arson.
Adesina, in the statement, reminded workers that the NSITF is 100 percent Federal Government-owned insurance parastatal, under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, designed for the role of insuring workers (employees) in the public and private sectors.
The Fund, he said, was bedevilled and riddled with corruption between 2012 -2015, which resulted in a colossal loss and mismanagement of about N48 billion out of the total N62 billion contributions during the said period.
He added that those found culpable have been investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and were presently being prosecuted by the anti-graft agency.
The presidential spokesman said Kokori, who has Buhari’s immense respect has been appointed on the recommendation of Ngige to chair the board of Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS), a diploma awarding labour institution.