A new twist to the ongoing standoff between the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige, and the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) over the refusal of the minister to inaugurate the board of Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), chaired by erstwhile General Secretary of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, (NUPENG), Comrade Frank Kokori, emerged at the weekend.
It was learnt that the minister’s hardline position is as a result of the decision by President Muhammadu Buhari at the recommendation of Ngige to reassign the former Labour leader.
Some officials of the ministry, who backed their claims with documents contended that the initial appointment of Kokori was faulty. They claimed that he was found not to be “a fit and proper person” for the chairmanship of the NSITF.
According to the documents they presented, the original appointment of Kokori as Board Chairman of NSITF did not follow the due process as stipulated by the Act setting up the Fund.
The document described “a fit and proper person” as someone who would not be beholden to any of the tripartite parties as recommended by the enabling law.
The officials who pleaded for anonymity contended that Kokori was recommended by the President of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) Ayuba Wabba to Acting President Yemi Osibajo against the dictates of the enabling law.
They claimed that the decision was changed when the Minister of Labour briefed President Muhammadu Buhari.
They noted following an extensive review, President Buhari has reassigned Kokori to the Pa Michael Imoudu Institute of Labour Studies, while a fit and proper candidate has been nominated to chair the Board of the NSITF.