20180826

Ngige Dares APC Chairman Oshiomhole

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has again defied the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, by refusing to inaugurate the board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) over a month after he promised to do so.

Oshiomhole had on July 23, threatened to expel Ngige from the party.

Both men are on each other's case for failing to set up the board over five months after President Muhammadu Buhari ordered all ministers to inaugurate boards of government agencies.

The APC chairman had also alleged that Ngige was intentionally delaying the setting up of the board in order to retain the exclusive powers of awarding contracts from the agency which receives billions of naira monthly.

In a letter, however, Ngige had promised to inaugurate the board of the NSITF before the end of July.

The minister had said the delay was caused by an investigation he ordered into the fraudulent activities of past boards of the NSITF.

Interestingly, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which also investigated the matter, had concluded its own probe over a year ago.

The Punch also learnt that over a month after Ngige’s letter was written, none of the members of the board had been contacted on the date the board would be inaugurated.

Buhari had in January appointed June 12 activist and former General Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, Chief Frank Kokori, as the chairman of the board.

Three board members who spoke to The Punch on the strict condition of anonymity, said they had not been contacted, neither had any memo been issued on the intention of setting up the board.

Efforts to speak with Ngige on Sunday proved abortive as he neither picked calls nor responded to a text message.

Attempts to get a reaction from Oshiomhole were also unsuccessful as his media aide, Mr. Simon Egbegbulem, neither picked calls nor responded to a text message sent to him on the issue.