Suspension of Top Management of NSITF – An Abuse of Processes: NECA Urges Respect for Corporate Governance and Rule of Law
Following the announced suspension of the top management and executive committee of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) by the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator (Dr.) Chris Ngige, the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) urges caution and respect for rules, Civil Service procedures, the enabling Act governing the Fund.
Speaking in Lagos, the Director-General of NECA, Dr. Timothy Olawale stated that “We received with shock the news of the purported suspension of the top management and Executive Committee of the NSITF on the basis of a prima facie infraction on the Financial Regulation and Procurement Act, apart from other gross misconduct actions. Our shock was premised on the fact that all known decorum, rule of corporate governance and well-publicized 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 Agencies and to ensure stability in the system were totally disregarded.”
The NECA DG averred that “the Board of the Fund was duly constituted and inaugurated by the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment in line with the enabling Act governing the NSITF and activities of the Board. As such, observed acts of misconduct in the Fund ought to have been brought to the knowledge of the Board for necessary actions as it unfolded. 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 were not aware of any of the claims made by the Minister as a subject before it.”
Speaking further on the right course of action, Dr. Olawale expressed that “in the spirit of appropriateness and respect for the rule of law and directive by the President as contained in Government’s Disciplinary Circular as released by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Honourable Minister ought to have referred the matter through the Permanent Secretary to the Governing Board (which is still in existence), 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. The Governing Board would then follow due process, issue relevant officers queries requesting explanations on the specific acts complained about, and then forward its findings and recommendations to the Hon. Minister for further consideration and necessary action. It is then that the Honourable Minister can recommend to the Government (the President through the SGF, as the case may be for necessary action. This time-tested and institutionalised procedure was not respected nor acknowledged.”
While urging respect for the principles of corporate governance and the rule of law, Dr. Olawale advised that “the NSITF should not be run outside the laws that established it. It is our candid opinion that the purportedly suspended top management be allowed to continue their lawful duties and the observed infractions on the Financial Regulation and Procurement Act and every other act of gross misconduct in the Fund be referred to the duly constituted Board for attention and appropriate action, pending the conclusion of the Audit by Bureau of Public Enterprises and the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation.
Concluding his remarks, the NECA Boss noted that “member-companies represented by NECA are the major contributors (of over 90% 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.”