The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association has said it is against the decision of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, to suspend the Managing Director of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, and 11 other officials of the agency.
On Thursday, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, approved the immediate and indefinite suspension of the Managing Director/Chief Executive of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Adebayo Somefun, from office, effective July 2.
Mr Ngige said their suspension from office arose from the “preliminarily established prima facie infractions on the extant Financial Regulations and Procurement Act, and other acts of gross misconduct”.
This suspension is coming over a month after secretary to the Government of the Federation’s (SGF) restrained cabinet ministers from removing heads of agencies and parastatals they supervise.
In a letter to the minister of Labour and Employment on Friday, the Director-General of NECA, Timothy Olawale, said the board of the fund, of which NECA was a member, was not aware of the allegations of gross misconduct and infraction of the Financial Regulation and Procurement Act.
He said the corporate governance structure of the NSITF, as provided for in the enabling Act, entrusted the board with the responsibility of dealing with these and other related matters.
Mr Olawale said the enabling Act governing the NSITF and activities of the board stipulated that the allegations should have been brought to the knowledge of the board for necessary actions as it unfolded.
He advised the labour minister to allow the managing director, executive directors and other suspended general managers continue their lawful duties without hindrance.
“We were caught unawares and surprised at the purported suspension from office of the top management and Executive Committee of the Fund, effective from July 1, 2020, by your good self,” Mr Olawale said.
He said the suspension was in disregard of the disciplinary procedures approved by President Muhammadu Bihari.
Mr Olawale said disciplinary procedures were established to stalk the arbitrary removal of chief executive officers by government and to ensure stability in the system.
“We wish to put on record that the board to which the NECA and other statutory Institutions like the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Central Bank of Nigeria, etc. are members, were not aware of any of the claims made by your office as a subject before it,” he said.
According to him, any observed infractions on the Financial Regulation and Procurement Act and every other act of gross misconduct in the fund should be referred to the duly constituted governing board through the established procedure for attention and appropriate actions.”
“I am aware the Bureau of Public Procurement and the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation were currently auditing the books, processes and affairs of the fund for the period 2018 to 2019 and were yet to conclude the task,” he said.
PREMIUM TIMES exclusively reported how the Buhari administration restrained cabinet ministers from directly removing heads of agencies and parastatals they supervise.
In his circular dated May 19, the SGF, Boss Mustapha, conveyed the “concern” of the government about the tendency by some ministers to arbitrarily remove chief executive officers of agencies and its impact on stability and service delivery.
According to the new procedure, when a serious misconduct is reported against a chief executive, the supervising minister, through the permanent secretary, is to refer the matter to the governing board of the affected agency in line with its enabling law and chapters three and 16 of the Public Service Rules on discipline and government parastatals.