The crisis between the suspended Nigeria Social Investment Fund (NSITF) boss, Kemi Nelson and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige has taken a drastic turn, as the former has accused the latter of padding the Fund’s budget.
In the latest development, Nelson, wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari over the management crisis rocking the agency.
Nelson, in the letter, accused Ngige of fraudulently inserting N1.2 billion “as commissions to contributors” of the Fund as well as also adding 5 SUVs in the 2020 budget of the NSITF.
This comes after the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer and three Executive Directors were suspended by Ngige over allegations of corruption.
Nelson, in the letter. urged Mr President to order an independent investigation of allegations levelled against the management of the NSITF.
She described the allegations by the Minister as unfounded, adding that their suspension was because they opposed fraudulent activities of the minister.
Mrs Nelson also alleged that Ngige installed his first betrothed wife as the new Ag. Executive Director of Administration to further smoothen his corrupt activities within the NSITF.
The letter read in part:
“The suspension of the present management was to pave way for the massive looting of the treasury of the fund, knowing fully that the stooges he placed there now will not have the courage, the standing, the authority, the independence to challenge him and prevent an unprecedented waste of public funds.
“We have it on good authority and which should be investigated that the Ag. Executive Director Administration which he has installed now is his first betrothed wife. He employed her into NSITF when she was far above the statutory age for the employment of persons into public service. With the funds of the agency, they have engaged in several wasteful utilization of public funds.
“It need be revealed that the minister, single-handedly amended the 2020 budget of the NSITF in connivance with his stooge who is the board chairman, and inserted N1.2 billion as commissions to contributors, who do not require any commission, because their contributions are statutory. This is clear evidence of corrupt practice and budget padding. (We have documentary evidence of this.)
“The Minister on his own also inserted Five (5) number SUVs into the budget of the NSITF besides the Four (4) number Trust Fund vehicles already in his custody.
“This represents the type of reckless, unaccountable and corrupt expenditure that the minister engages in and for which we are now being punished because we opposed such misapplication of public funds…
“Appointing a stooge as the board secretary is against the Act establishing the NSITF, as only the board itself can appoint a professional as the board secretary. The Minister blatantly disregarded the Act while claiming it was the president who approved such decision and in clear violation of the law insisted on handpicking a board secretary all in fulfilling a personal agenda.”
However, when Ngige announced the suspension of the NSITF top management staff, which The Street Journal had earlier reported, he claimed that a preliminary investigation against the management established prima facie infractions on the extant Financial Regulations and Procurement Act. and other acts of gross misconduct.
“During the period of their suspension, the officers will face a Joint Board and Audit Investigative Panel that had been set up to look into the financial and procurement breaches, as well as gross misconduct in the NSITF from 2016 to date.
“The gross misconduct has invariably put the contributions of stakeholders in a perilous state. The affected officers have also been directed to hand over to the most senior officers in their respective departments.”