Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
he Joint National Assembly Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity, yesterday summoned the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige, for solely awarding 44 of 131 employment slots at the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) to himself.
According to the committee, the minister grossly abused his office by a decision he took during a meeting he had with NSITF during which he cancelled the employment exercise undertaken by his ministry between July and September this year.
The committee also summoned the Chairman of the Federal Character Commission, Shettima Bukar-Abba and Managing Director of NSITF, Umar Munir Abubakar to appear with Ngige before the committee on Tuesday.
According the Joint Committee Chairman, Senator Suleiman Nazif, Ngige violated the federal character principle on his handling of NSITF employment scheme.
“Employment is of paramount importance and the committee would ensure that employment is done in a manner to reflect the principles of federal character. I think there’s something going on in NSITF that no one is willing to talk about. It is clear that the minister, Senator Chris Ngige, is responsible for these irregularities, impunity and anomalies, resulting in gross abuse of his office, and we’ll take action on it,” Nazif said.
Nazif also charged the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, to brief President Muhammadu Buhari on the situation which he said was designed to implicate the committee.
He was irked that Ngige gave 44 of the 131 available slots to himself whereas some states such as Katsina had only one slot while others like Kwara had none.
“We want you Senator Ita Enang to inform the President about it because he’s trying to put this committee in trouble. Anambra has 45, while other states have two or even one,” he said.
Responding, Enang assured the committee of the presidency’s readiness to address perceived lopsidedness in employment schemes in parastatals and agencies of government, promising that federal character principle would be strictly complied with.
“Let me just say that I just received this document this morning. I will relay relate with the executive on this and we will speak with the committee and make a representation and where we’ve gone wrong, we will address it
“Federal character is compulsory, and we’ll address it. I apologise that it has to come to this level before we address it. I’ve listened to the hard sentiments lawfully expressed and therefore apologise,” Enang said.