Joseph Atobisi: Cleansing the Augean strong in NSITF

In recent times, the Nigeria Social Insurance coverage Agree with Fund (NSITF) has been within the information, however for the flawed causes. Below the availability of NSITF Act of 1993, all workers of labour within the Personal sector, registered beneath the Firms and Allied Issues Act (CAMA) 1990, both as firms or partnerships, regardless of the selection of their workers or have been sole companies of no longer not up to 5 workers have been required to check in as a member of NSIFT scheme and remit contributions per 30 days. The advantages come with retirement pension receive advantages, survivors receive advantages, retirement grant, demise grant, invalidity receive advantages, invalidity grant and such different advantages that can be licensed once in a while by way of the Board.

Below the Workers Repayment Act (2010), the mandate of NSITF comprises to supply for an open and honest machine of assured and ok reimbursement for all workers or their defendants for any demise, damage, illness or incapacity bobbing up out of employment, to supply rehabilitation to workers with paintings incapacity up to conceivable and to ascertain and take care of a solvent reimbursement fund controlled within the pastime of workers and employers.

Painfully, in recent times, the worthy targets for organising NSITF are actually being eroded by way of the actions of the ones entrusted to control the fund. Maximum Nigerians now understand the habits of directors of the fund as a case of “a canine consuming the bone hanged on its neck.”

If truth be told, it isn’t an overstatement to mention that the fund has develop into a cesspool of corruption. In virtually part a decade now, Nigerians had been bamboozled by way of widespread stories of looting popping out of NSITF.

In 2018, an Administrative Panel of Enquiry headed by way of Ishaya Awotu exposed how NSITF allegedly misappropriated N6.2 billion via abnormal allowances totaling N5.7 billion paid to body of workers and control.

Whilst presenting its report back to the Supervising Minister, Senator (Dr) Chris Ngige, the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, the chairman of the panel, Awotu mentioned, “Those allowances have been paid with out the approval of the Nationwide Wage, Earning and Wages Fee. A few of these allowances have been control body of workers allowance, body of workers schooling allowances, DSTV subscription allowance and dressing allowance. The others have been generator and motor automobile fueling allowances, which have been no longer equipped for within the situation of provider of the fund.”

The panel additional seen that between 2013 and 2017, the inner audit division of NSITF didn’t audit the money books of the quite a lot of financial institution accounts of the headquarters in violation of Phase 1701 of the Monetary Rules. The Awotu panel additional found out that there have been a number of switch of budget, estimated at over N15 billion, from one checking account to some other with out authorization and approval. Over N2.nine billion was once mentioned to had been spent of computerization and different ICT similar apparatus, but no longer a lot was once accomplished on computerization, defeating the aim of the expenditure. Certainly, the discoveries of the panel seemed unending.

In a similar way, on July 1 this yr, the Federal Prime Courtroom Abuja in Abuja granted an order of intervening time forfeiture in the case of 46 homes, together with properties and parcels of land, suspected to be owned by way of former Chairperson, Board of NSITF, Mrs. Ngozi Juliet Olejeme. The order was once granted by way of Justice Taiwo Taiwo whilst ruling on a movement exparte introduced by way of the Financial and Monetary Crimes Fee (EFCC) in swimsuit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/538/2020. The homes indexed within the swimsuit have been positioned in Abuja, Bayelsa and Delta States. In a supporting affidavit, the anti-corruption company claimed that Olejeme bought the mentioned belongings with public budget she allegedly diverted whilst serving in NSITF between 2009 and 2015.

Maximum just lately, some other can of computer virus was once opened in NSITF, following the suspension of Managing Director of NSITF, Adebayo Somefun, the 3 Govt Administrators and a few senior control body of workers by way of President Muhammadu Buhari who got here to workplace in Would possibly 2015 at the mantra of “warfare in opposition to corruption.” Charles Akpan, the Director of Press and Public Members of the family within the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, introduced the suspension in a remark he launched to the media on July 2. The affected Govt Administrators have been Jasper Ikedi Azuatalam (Govt Director, Finance and Funding), Mrs. Olukemi Nelson (Govt Director Operations), Alhaji Tijani Darazo Suliaman (Govt Director, Management).

The suspended senior control body of workers have been Mr. Olusegun Olumide Bashorun (Basic Supervisor Management/Human Assets/Repairs), Mr. Lawan Tahir (Basic Supervisor, Finance), and Mr. Chris Esedebe (Basic Supervisor, Claims and Repayment). Others are: Mr. Olodotun A. Adegbite (Deputy Basic Supervisor, Funding and Treasury Control), Mr. Emmanuel Enyinnaya Sike (Deputy Basic Supervisor, Finance and Accounts), Mrs. Olutoyin O. Arokoyo (Deputy Basic Supervisor/Appearing Head, Felony), Ms. Dorathy Zajeme Tukura (Deputy Basic Supervisor, Management), Mrs. Victoria Ayantuga (Assistant Basic Supervisor, Interior Audit). The ministry defined that the suspension of the officials arose from alleged “preliminarily established prima facie infractions at the extant Monetary Rules and Procurement Act, and different acts of gross misconduct.”

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One of the most alleged infractions exposed by way of the Ministry come with “N3.four billion lavished on non- existent body of workers coaching break up into about 196 other consultancy contracts so as to evade the Ministerial Tenders Board and Federal Govt Council, FEC, approval. Non- existent unexecuted N2.three billion was once documented and paid whilst N1.1 billion is waiting for cost with none process achieved, all totaling N3.four billion. Similar is going for tasks of development of 14 Zonal/ Regional workplaces in 14 states working into billions of naira- a coverage factor being achieved with out Board or Ministerial wisdom to not communicate of Approval. This was once achieved in 2019 by way of the Managing Director and his three-man govt. One of the most tasks are duplications and therefore waste of budget.

Regardless, the affected suspended control body of workers claimed that they weren’t suspended by way of the President, pronouncing that they simply won a letter from the Minister of Labour and Employment that he was once doing procurement audit on NSITF at the foundation of which he suspended the control.

They alleged that the Minister’s motion violated President Buhari’s directive during the Secretary to the Govt of the Federation that mentioned obviously that no minister will have to droop or sack any head of company appointed by way of the President, including that they have been positive that President Buhari may not be a part of any illegality and loss of due procedure.Nigeria Employers Consultative Affiliation (NECA) via its Director-Basic, Timothy Olawale, aligned itself with the suspended control.

However, the Labour Ministry insisted that due procedure was once adopted strictly within the suspension of the highest control of the Nigerian Social Insurance coverage Agree with Fund (NSITF) over problems with N3.four billion corruption following considerations raised in some quarters. A remark by way of the Ministry defined that the NSITF Act empowers the Minister to suggest have compatibility and right kind individuals to the President for appointment for the publish of chairman, Managing Director and 3 Govt Administrators to control the day after day affairs of the company.

The remark reaffirmed that the suspension of the control become crucial after initial investigation on allegations of corruption in opposition to the NSITF best officers, established prima facie infractions at the extant monetary rules and procurement Act and different acts of gross misconduct. In line with the spokesman of the ministry, “NECA does no longer have the overall details nor do they know that the Secretary to Govt of the Federation, SGF, conveyed the Presidential approval to the Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment for complete implementation.”

He added that “If a Minister observes there are monetary breaches previous reported and gross misconduct he does no longer want to return to a Board that has been complaining to the similar Minister.”

“We are hoping that NECA does no longer be expecting the Minister to fold his fingers like his predecessor who watched helplessly when the closing Board Chair in cahoot with the 2 NECA representatives, MD and officers looted N48 billion from the Fund and are being attempted as of date by way of the EFCC

“NECA management will have to had been extra restrained and attentive to the chant of this management like their NLC opposite numbers because the NSITF is a Federal Govt parastatal working throughout the realm of the Charter, Public Provider laws and the NSITF Act, which empowers the Minister to suggest have compatibility and right kind individual to Mr. President for appointment for the publish of Chairman, Managing Director and the 3 Govt Administrators for the day after day control of the company,” the Ministry mentioned.

The ministry recalled that those breaches in query began since 2016 to 2019 and weren’t restricted to 2018/2019 as NECA claimed, including that “while the Ministry does no longer intend to enter a media altercation with a Social spouse, NECA, the DG does neatly to emulate the NLC who liaised with the Ministry to be adequately briefed and have been happy after the briefing, extra so after they had additionally won transient from their individual at the Board.” The Ministry regretted that Olawale as consultant of NECA at the Board sat there when the suspended MD of NSITF and a few contributors of his Govt lavished N3.four billion on non- existent Group of workers coaching break up into about 196 other consultancy contracts so as to evade the Ministerial Tenders Board and Federal Govt Council FEC, approvals.

In the meantime, the Board of NSITF has undertaken to analyze the actions of the suspended Managing Director, 3 Govt Administrators and 8 different senior control body of workers. This was once disclosed by way of Chairman of NSITF Control Board, Mr. Austin Enajemo-Isire in a remark dated July 5, 2020. Opposite to the declare of the control and NECA, Isire showed that the acclaim for suspension of the body of workers have been conveyed to the labour minister in a correspondence referenced SGF 47/511/T/99 of June 30, 2020. He confident that the MD and others concerned would have alternative to transparent themselves of any wrongdoing with the probe panel being arrange. On July 16, the Honourable Minister inaugurated an investigative panel headed by way of Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel to probe the allegations in opposition to the suspended MD and others.

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Within the gentle of the foregoing, it’s the candid view of this creator that the suspended control body of workers will have to publish to a radical investigation in their actions the length they presided over the affairs of NSITF. If truth be told, they want to be reminded that President Muhammadu Buhari has 0 tolerance for corruption, which had earned him an award from the African Union as “Anti-corruption champion.”

It’s regrettable that the suspended control who should had been making ready their protection prior to the panel by way of now are busy making baseless and unfounded allegations in opposition to the Minister. How may just Kemi Nelson declare that the Minister inserted N1.2 billion tasks and 5 SUVs within the funds when he’s neither a member of Ministerial Tenders Board, Tenders Board of the parastatal nor a member of the Nationwide Meeting, to provide him the leverage to tinker with the funds? Or is she nursing the wound of her suspension? Or is that this Kemi no longer the similar one that insiders say, is going house with N10 million every year as housing and collects N9.eight million as estacode for 28 days go away?

Our findings additional display that the Minister had on Would possibly 19, 2020 written the Managing Director of NSITF, Bayo Somefun in recognize of 20 % relief of the funds of the company in keeping with the verdict of Federal Govt Council. It was once collected that the letter directed that trimming down of the funds of the fund will have to center of attention on non important capital expenditure, particularly the ones categorized as administrative capital expenditure, corresponding to laptop device acquisition, acquire of computer systems, scanners, photocopiers, shredders, acquire of buses, vans, vehicles, motor cars, bikes, acquire/development/provision of reputable residential structures, furnishings fittings, empowerment, coaching and capability development. The suspended MD was once mentioned to have said the letter with a answer the next day to come, Would possibly 2020 however went forward to forget the directive. In line with insiders, he used his cohorts within the NSITF control staff, particularly Kemi Nelson and Jasper Azutalam to knock it down on the board. It’s subsequently preposterous that the minister who insisted that the funds of the fund, particularly with regards to the acquisition of cars be scaled down or got rid of, is similar individual being accused of placing SUVs within the funds.

Coming to the declare bordering on fee and income experts , it was once collected that one of the vital earliest choices the Minister took when he got here on board in 2015, was once to prohibit income experts, directing that the body of workers power of the company was once sufficient for such income pressure. Alternatively, the tripartite alliance of Bayo Somefun, Kemi Nelson, Jasper Azutalam at the side of different cohorts threw this directive overboard in 2018 and restored the previous machine, fronting a large number of brokers who ripped off the company of humongous sums as commissions. Quoting a web-based media, “One of the crucial main issues within the company is that the suspended MD and the Govt Administrators are bonded in what looks as if an evil pact to make sure that the company is administered down with their bizarre control taste, neck deep in duplicity and fraud.

At the proprietary of the suspension, this is a widely known incontrovertible fact that the President who appoints too can self-discipline by way of both suspension or outright removing. Secondly, postponing and providing you with proper of defence or honest listening to at a Board led impartial panel as on this case is key as a result of while you don’t seem to be to blame, all rights are restored with out blemish.

After all, I will not conclude this piece and not using a phrase or two for supporters of the suspended body of workers, corresponding to NECA and Hon. James Faleke of the Space of Representatives and their brokers within the media. They will have to know that Nigerians don’t seem to be deceived by way of their primordially motivated assaults and baseless allegations in opposition to Senator Chris Ngige. It’s public wisdom that Dr Ngige has exhibited a patriotic zeal in his supervision of NSITF to make sure the security of the retirement advantages of the employees. Rather despicable and loathsome is their hotel to blackmail and lies and makes an attempt to ruin the hard-earned recognition of the Honourable Minister. A pronouncing is going that “a transparent judgment of right and wrong fears no accusation.” Reasonably than orchestrate assaults on Ngige, NECA, Faleke and their ilk will have to advise their suspended friends/constituents in NSITF to look prior to the investigative panel and protect themselves.

Joseph Atobisi wrote from Abuja.

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