The Nigeria Labour Congress has accused the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, of being desperate to continue running the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) as a ‘sole administrator’.
The Congress said this today at a press conference.
The union vowed to stage a mass protest to press for the inauguration of the governing board of the fund with Frank Kokori as chairman.
The president of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, who chaired the event said: “It is clear that the minister of labour and employment is adamant on perpetually appropriating the NSITF in a sole proprietorship.
“Nigerian workers reject the manifest intent of Chris Ngige to continue to run the NSITF as a sole administrator.”
Mr Wabba said the intent of the minister is against the provision of laws establishing NSITF and ”all moral codes”.
He said a lot of falsehood is being peddled against Mr Kokori by the minister.
“Contrary to the lies by the minister, Frank Kokori’s appointment by President Buhari was without any prompting by the NLC. In fact, it was Ngige who hinted us of Kokori’s appointment,” he said.
Mr Wabba said he believed the president appointed Mr Kokori because of ”his history of being an incorruptible Nigerian who has never wavered on moral principles”.
These qualities, he said, Mr Ngige fears.
“Ngige confessed to some of us that his major problem with the appointment of Kokori is that he is too rigid for his liking,” Mr Wabba said.
The NLC boss said Mr Kokori was appointed on merit as confirmed by Vice President Yemi Osnibajo.
He also said Mr Kokori is eminently more qualified to hold even higher offices as against the claim by the minister ”that Kokori is not academically qualified to chair the NSITF board.”
Mr Wabba said the union had written a formal communication to the presidency and all the security agencies on the issue.
The union also accused Mr Ngige of recruiting 85 per cent ”of his village people in the ministry”.
Mr Wabba said the union would embark on a protest if the Kokori-led board is not inaugurated before May 1.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how Mr Kokori, a former General Secretary of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers Union (NUPENG), broke down in tears, when he accused Mr Ngige, of ‘oppressing’ him.
Mr Kokori had said this at the scheduled inauguration of the NSITF board, shortly after the event was postponed indefinitely.
The minister through his spokesperson, Rhoda Iliya, had accused the NLC of disrupting the event.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported the controversy surrounding the inauguration. Although the presidency named Mr Kokori as chairman-designate, the labour minister omitted his name when listing those to be inaugurated.
The board was constituted by Yemi Osinbajo in October 2017 in his capacity as acting president. Ministers are empowered to inaugurate boards of agencies in their ministries.
Mr Kokori, a former labour leader during the Sani Abacha military dictatorship, had told PREMIUM TIMES he would, however, attend the inauguration.