Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige yesterday said that those accusing him of not inaugurating the Board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF, because he was awarding contracts were ignorant of the Procurement Act, stating that neither himself as a minister nor the Board has the right to award contracts.
This is coming on the heels of the threat by the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who had last Monday threatened to expel Ngige or any other Minister that failed to carry out his directive from the party.
The bone of contention between the two is the inauguration of Board of the Governing Council of the NSITF, where Oshiomhole had directed Ngige to inaugurate the board but the minister suspended the inauguration because of the ongoing probe of the fund where about N62 billion was said to have not been accounted for by the past board.
A statement signed by the Director of Press, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Samuel Olowookere read, “The attention of the Hon. Minister of labour and Employment, Senator Dr. Chris Ngige has been drawn to media reports that his office appropriated the powers of the Board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund( NSITF) in the award of contracts, hence the delay in inaugurating the board of the agency.
“Such a blatant falsehood is either on account of fertile ignorance or outright mischief or both by the originator as well as the peddlers. It is therefore imperative that the provisions of the Procurement Act 2010 which is clear and unambiguous on the process for the award of contracts be re-emphasized.
“For clarity purpose, the Ministerial Tenders Board (MTB) for the award of contracts in any Ministry is made up of the Permanent Secretary as chairman and his Directors, while in the parastatals, the Parastatals Tenders Board consists of the Chief Executive Officer (Director General or Managing Director) and his Directors .
“The Minister is not a member and therefore does not award contracts. Similarly, members of Board of Directors being non-members of the Tenders Board of the parastatals do not also award contracts. It is therefore a stunningly crass ignorance for anyone to claim that part of the reasons for the delay in the inauguration of the board of the NSITF or any parastatal was to enable the Minister usurp the role of the board as regards the award of contracts.
“When the threshold of the award is above a parastatal, such contracts are referred to the MTB for final approval. Such also is the case with the Ministerial Tenders Board threshold which is referred to the Bureau for Public Procurement and from there, to the Council of Ministers called the Federal Executive Council for treatment and ratification. So in effect, the Federal Executive Council is not a contract awarding body and hence Ministers do not award contracts stricto senso!
“It is our humble view therefore that those in authority should be versed in little basic issues that guide public governance so as to be properly guided in their utterances to avoid unnecessary character assassination and unfortunate misinformation of the general public.
“Once more, the Honourable minister wishes to state that the reason for the delayed inauguration of the Board of the NSITF was to enable the Administrative Panel of Inquiry set up to probe a frightening degree of corruption amounting to over 48 billion Naira out of which N5billion disappeared in a day without vouchers, complete its assignment.
“The panel has submitted its report while the committee implementing same report is already empaneled. It will finish its work very soon to pave the way for the inauguration of the Board of Directors.”
Obasanjo, Abdulsalami, Sultan, Others Brainstorm On Insecurity
Rising insecurity and agitations for secession by different ethnic groups across Nigeria has attracted the attention of elder statesmen and other national leaders to a meeting in Abuja.
The meeting was organised by Interfaith Initiatives for Peace jointly led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, and Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and the National Peace Committee chaired by Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd).
Reporters were barred from taking part in the closed-door meeting, expected to proffer solutions to the ongoing security challenges threatening the peace and unity of the country.
It was also an exploratory meeting on pressing issues of national unity, security, peace, integration, economic revitalisation and development, women and youth welfare and general progress.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd); Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; Tor Tiv, Prof Ortese Iorzua James Ayatse, Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan; President General (Ohanaeze Ndigbo), Prof George Obiozor; and Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo; were all in attendance.
Others sighted at the meeting are President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba; CAN General Secretary, Joseph Daramola; JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede; Etsu Nupe, Yahya Abubakar; former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, among several political and traditional rulers at the meeting.
Elder statesmen, Chief Edwin Clark, also attended the event at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, but could not participate in the meeting because he could not climb the staircase to the meeting room.
Fighting Corruption Difficult In Democratic Setting, Buhari Laments
President Muhammadu Buhari says fighting corruption in democratic setting is a difficult task to accomplish.
The president disclosed this during an interview with Arise Television which was televised, yesterday.
According to him, the war against corruption has not been easy for him since he became a democratically elected president six years ago.
He, however, stressed that his administration had succeeded in easing out corrupt public officials without making noise about it.
Buhari recalled that much was achieved in the fight against corruption when he was military Head of State in the early 80s “when a lot of people were sent to prisons before I was also booted out”.
The president frowned at the way and manner local government system was being managed, saying the local government administration was almost non-existent in the country.
He cited situation where state governors continued to starve the local governments of funds saying “in a situation where N300million is allocated to local government and they are given N100million is not fair”.
On activities of bandits and kidnappers particularly in the North-West and North-Central zones, Buhari said he had given the police and Armed Forces the instructions to be ruthless with bandits and vandals terrorising innocent citizens across the country.
He stated that he had told the security agencies to treat bandits and other criminals in the “the language they understand.
“Problem in the north-west; you have people over there stealing each other’s cattle and burning each other’s villages.
“Like I said, we are going to treat them in the language they understand.
“We have given the police and the military the power to be ruthless. You watch it in a few weeks’ time there will be difference.
”Because we told them if we keep people away from their farm, we are going to starve. And the government can’t control the public.
“If you allow hunger, the government is going to be in trouble and we don’t want to be in trouble.
“We are already in enough trouble. So, we warn them sooner than later you’ll see the difference,’’ he said.
On farmers/herders clashes, the president said the problem had persisted because old cattle routes and grazing areas had been violated by development, adding that those who had taken over such traditional arrangements would be dispossessed.
On the fight against insurgency, Buhari dismissed the assertion that majority of Boko Haram members were foreigners.
According to him, the majority of the Boko Haram members are Nigerians, saying this was further corroborated by Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum.
The president stated that his administration had done a lot to fight the terrorists and insurgents but the problem in the “North-East is very difficult.”
Igboho Declares June 12 Day Of Protest, Warns Buhari
Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, has declared June 12 as day of protest for Yoruba nation agitators.
The self-acclaimed Yoruba activist said the agitators will hold ‘peaceful rallies’ across the South-West region on Saturday, June 12.
Igboho, who spoke through his spokesman, Olayomi Koiki, in a live video programme aired, last Wednesday night, called on South-West governors to cooperate with the peaceful protesters during the exercise.
He warned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration not to attack the agitators.
He said, “Let us warn the Federal Government that if there is bloodshed this weekend, the international community is watching, if the military kills any Nigerian this weekend, it is going to be very hot.
“The Yoruba nation rally will go ahead in every part of Yoruba land and the rest of the country where it will hold.
“Red alarm will begin on Friday. People should stock up food Items from Friday night.
“We are not backing down this weekend; we are ready to take back what belongs to us.”
He also enjoined agitators to ‘fast’ on Friday.
This is coming after NANS under the leadership of its National President, Comrade Sunday Asefon, had declared June 12 as National Day of peaceful protest to call on the government to act decisively towards addressing insecurity.
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