The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, has warned the newly inaugurated boards of parastatals under the ministry against misappropriation of funds.
Ngige gave the warning while inaugurating three out of the five boards of parastatals under the ministry on Friday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the boards of parastatals that were inaugurated include National Directorate of Employment (NDE), National Productivity Centre (NPC) and Michael Imoudu Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS).
The minister said that the warning has become imperative due to the recent misappropriation of N5 billion by the former board chairman and some staff of the Nigeria Insurance Trust Funds (NSITF).
According to him, NSITF is one of the causalities of such misappropriation which is why their board is not being inaugurated today.
“They are in arrears of about four to five years and between this four to five years there has been massive looting that took place in that organisation.
“Reports from the audit balance has revealed that a whooping sum of about five billion was removed in one day in a single voucher.
“So therefore, government has decided that we must know how this financial haemorrhage occurred in this organisation and also several sums that is not being accounted for and running into billions.
“So today as we speak, workers in that organisation cannot even get tax clearance certificates as their payee tax deductions, housing allowance deductions and their pension deductions are all taken away, “stolen’’.
“Therefore, you can now see why we want you to be guided by the financial rules and regulations and to ensure that you implement it to the latter, ‘’he said.
Ngige said that one of the principles of the Financial Regulations in Section 32 of the financial regulations states that “parastatals must rendered financial account of inflow and out flow of funds through their boards to the ministry.”
“I charge you to make sure that this is done in the spirit of change as this administration has zero tolerance for corruption.
“It will therefore be irregular and indeed unacceptable for you to ask your management to provide fringe benefits that you are not entitled to,” he said.
He said the board of parastatals are, therefore, responsible for setting out the parastatal’s economic, financial, operational and administrative policies, programmes and targets in line with the overall objectives as provided by the government.
Ngige also said that the role of governing board was therefore to drive general policy formulation and implementation and not be involved in the day to day running of the agencies.
He further charged the board to ensure capacity building, job creation, productivity, promotion, generation of wealth, labour education and sustained development of the country.
“It is obvious that the challenge before the board of these establishment is one of re-engineering and developing new strategies.
“That is suitable modalities for translating the broad objectives of government to tangible improvement in the lives of our citizens, especially the most vulnerable, ‘’he said.
Sen. Ezenwa Oyebuchi, House Committee Chairman on Labour, Employment and Productivity called on the newly appointed boards to hit the ground running.
According to Oyebuchi, you must justify the trust and confidence repose in you and the only way you can do that is to ensure that the right things are done, and ensuring you move the parastatals forward.
“On our part as the legislator, we will ensure we do due diligent in our oversight responsibility to make sure that the right things are done.
“We will also partner with you to carry out our responsibilities without fear or favour, ‘’he said.
Earlier, Prof. Stephen Ocheni, Minister of State, Ministry of Labour and Employment, said the inauguration must be recognised as a call to service.
Ocheni, who was represented by Mr Bolaji Adebiyi, Permanent Secretary in the ministry, charged the boards to bring in their wealth of experience and support policies of the present administration.
Mr Eyo Ekpo, Chairman, NPC board, who spoke on behalf of the boards, pledged that they would adhere strictly to the rules and regulations of the boards.