Suspended management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) has scheduled an emergency virtual meeting to hold tomorrow (Tuesday).
The board is expected to discuss the recent suspension of the Managing Director of the agency, Adebayo Somefun, three Executive Directors and some other top officials.
Last week, Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige had said President Muhammadu Buhari approved their suspension following alleged financial infraction and procurement breaches
Enajemo-Isire said their suspension was duly convened by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, to Ngige in a letter of June 30, 2020 for full implementation.
In a statement on Sunday in Abuja, Enajemo-Isire urged all workers of the agency to keep calm while advising affected officers to comply with the directives as transmitted to them by Ngige and the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, William Alo.
“It is in this light that I have decided to call an emergency virtual meeting of the management board on Tuesday, July 7, 2020 to consider modalities for our further action.
“In the interim, all workers are to keep calm while affected officers are advised to comply with the directives as transmitted to them by the Honourable Minister and the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
“In the same vein, we urge all our social partners to exercise restraint, as they will be updated with further development during this board meeting.”
In an earlier statement, the management had said all the trainings, contracts and rehabilitation it carried out received the approvals of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment as well as the National Assembly.
The agency was responding to allegation by Ngige that Somefun and some members of his executive lavished N3.4 billion on “non-existent staff training split into about 196 different consultancy contracts in order to evade the Ministerial Tenders Board and Federal Executive Council (FEC) approvals”.
Ngige had cited financial infractions and procurement breaches as some of the reasons Somefun, the directors and other officials of the agency were suspended by President Buhari last Thursday.
The minister challenged the management team to tender their evidence before the Joint Board and Audit Investigative Panel set up to examine the financial and procurement breaches as well as gross misconduct in the NSITF from 2016 till date.
“Let them go and tell those ones to the panel. They should go to the panel and show all those things. And if they are correct, the panel will exonerate them,” he said.
But the statement by the suspended NSITF management reads: “There was no contract splitting, as claimed by the minister. The trainings referred to were budgeted for in the year 2017, 2018 and 2019 appropriations for over 5,000 workers nationwide, and Procurement Planning Committee meetings were held for the procurement of goods, works and services to commence the procurement activities.
“All these details were included in the budget for these years, taken for budget defence in the supervising ministry, officially endorsed by the minister himself, approved and transmitted to the National Assembly for necessary approval during the budget defences for these years.
“Another allegation the minister levelled against the suspended management was that the project of construction of 14 zonal/regional offices in 14 states, running into billions of naira, was a policy that was done without the board’s or ministerial knowledge, not to talk of approval.
“We hereby seek that due process be followed and the suspended workers should be allowed to return to their offices to prepare their defence to all allegations against them.
“There are already reports that some of the documents needed to defend the allegations are being carted away from the office. “Consequently, it would be appreciated if the minister would comply with the SGF circular …dated May 19, 2020.”
Also, the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) has denied that the board of the NSITF wrote a petition against the management team detailing financial impropriety, which was presented to President Buhari.
NECA Director-General, Timothy Olawale, who is on NSITF board, while responding to Ngige, said: “NECA is not against the minister, as head of the supervising ministry, taking whatever actions he deemed right in his capacity, but takes exception to misrepresentation and misleading information to the public.
“It would be interesting in public interest to divulge the identities of the board members behind the said petition.”