Respect rule of law, lift suspension on NSITF boss, others – NECA tells FG

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The National Consultative Employees Association (NECA) has called on the Federal Government to lift suspension placed on top management and executive committee members of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).

Mr Timothy Olawale, NSITF Director-General, said this in a letter addressed to Sen. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, on Friday in Abuja.

According to him, the Managing Director, Executive Directors and other suspended General Managers be allowed to continue their lawful duties without hindrance.

“The observed infractions on the Financial Regulation and Procurement Act and every other acts of gross misconduct in the Fund should be referred to the duly constituted Governing Board through the established procedure for attention and appropriate actions.

“It is worthy of note that member-companies represented by NECA on the Fund are the major contributors (of over 90 per cent of the NSITF revenue) to the fund, thus, we owe our nation and constituents the responsibility to ensure that right things are done under our watch.

“We have no doubt that the Honourable Minister will respect these positions of NECA as it is in tandem with the avowed commitment of the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari to respect the rule of law,” he said.

He said the association was caught unawares at the purported suspension from office of the top management and Executive Committee of the Fund on the basis of “prima facie infraction on the Financial Regulation and Procurement Act, apart from other gross misconduct” actions.

Olawale said NECA was taken aback by the development due to the Board of the Fund was duly constituted and inaugurated by your good self and in line with the enabling Act governing the NSITF and activities of the Board.

He noted that such “other acts of misconduct in the Fund” ought to have been brought to the knowledge of the Board for necessary actions as it unfolded.

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He also said that the same goes for the supposedly “established prima facie infractions on the Financial Regulation and Procurement Act” by the Executive Committee and Management.

He said the suspension was in disregard of the well-publicised disciplinary procedures approved by the President and released by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation which was put in place to stem the arbitrary removal of Chief Executive Officers of Government and to ensure stability in the system.

The NECA boss said the Corporate Governance structure of the Fund as provided for in the enabling Act entrusts the Board with the responsibility of dealing with these and other related matters.

This is the essence of the Board and in the spirit of corporate governance, he said.

“We wish to put on record that the Board to which the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) and other statutory institutions like the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), etc, are members and were not aware of any of the claims made by your office as a subject before it.

“Furthermore, we had expected that in line with the aforementioned circular of government on Approved Disciplinary Procedure against CEOs of Government Parastatals and Agencies, the minister ought to have refer the matter through the Permanent Secretary to the Governing Board which is still in existence.

“This is in order for necessary action in line with the relevant provisions of the Establishment Act and the Principles guiding Chapters 3 and 16 of the Public Service Rules,” he said.

Olawale noted that as member of the Governing Board, they expected due process was followed, issue relevant officers queries requesting explanations on the specific acts complained about.

He also said their findings and recommendations would be fowarded to the minister for further consideration and necessary action.

“It is then that you can recommend to the Government (the President through the SGF, as the case may be) for necessary action.

“We have information on good authority that the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation are currently looking into the books, processes/affairs of the Fund.

“They are also carrying out the routine periodic check on the financial records of the Fund for the period 2018 to 2019 and are yet to conclude the tasks, thus cannot be the basis of your conclusions reached and actions taken.

“In view of the foregoing, our candid opinion, therefore, is that the NSITF should not be run outside the laws of the nation, the enabling Act establishing it and the guidelines/directives of Government. Thus, we advise,” he added.

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