By Christiana Ekpa
Suspended Managing Director of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Bar. Adebayo Kolawole has explained that Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige came after him because he refused to approve some illegal requests.
According to the suspended MD, part of his problem was the payment of about N85 million to a consultant, for a training yet to be carried out, on the instruction of Ngige, an action he said was carried out in his absence. “I have to personally issue the GM Finance a query, and I think that was one of my sins”.
Kolawole who made the disclosure before an Ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives investigating the reported arbitrary breach of presidential directives on staff discipline by Ngige and the Minister of Power, in NSITF, and NBET and TCN respectively, also explained that Ngige wanted to introduce a “special promotion” scheme for the Fund, which he rejected on grounds that the move was in breach of the civil service rules, and may also breed bad blood amongst staff.
He described as “totally false”, the allegation that his Executive Committee and the Management team of the NSITF were insubordinate, by refusing to reduce the budget of the Fund by over 20 percent, as instructed by the FEC, stressing that at no point was he aware of such directives.
Reeling out a lot of innovations his team had brought, to redeem the image of NSITF, Kolawole lamented that “It is painful that when people have done a lot to bring the Fund out of the hall of shame, they are being condemned with all manner of falsehoods, instead of being commendated”, adding that Ngige’s suspension order breached both the civil service guidelines and the principle of fair hearing.
Earlier, chairman of the committee, Hon. Miriam Onuoha told his colleagues that she received a letter from Ngige that he was indisposed and so would not be in attendance, suggesting a time slot for Thursday, since he would be attending the FEC meeting today.
Onuoha said “I don’t think this in good faith, because this committee was given one week to submit its report, and as you are aware, the House would be going on its annual recess this week. I have replied his letter this morning (Monday), suggesting that he can present his position, even if it’s through any of the virtual means”.
He also pledged to be fair to all parties involved.
Declaring the hearing open, Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who was represented by the Chief Whip, Hon. Tahir Monguno said the NSITF remained an integral part the nation’s welfare drive, but was unfortunately assuming a place for internal political struggle, which the House would not allow.