By Obioma C. Appolos
To avoid being seen as a government that abhors due process and rule of law, the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has urged the Federal Government to strengthen the confidence that had been built over the years in government’s institutions, by inaugurating the boards of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), National Pension Commission (PenCom) and other relevant agencies without further delay.
Director-General of NECA, Timothy Olawale, who stated this in Lagos recently, expressed disappointment that more than one year after President Muhammadu Buhari pronounced membership of the boards, some ‘rebellious’ Ministers have remained defiant to the directive of the President without any repercussion.
Furthermore, he pointed out that the concerned Ministers’ failure to inaugurate the boards contravenes the laws that set up the agencies and that such action is inimical to their continued growth.
Olawale, who quoted copiously from section 19 of the *Pension Reform Act 2014 that provides for a governing of PenCom saddled* with responsibilities, said it raises a fundamental governance issue, as contributors’ funds from employers and workers in Nigeria are involved.
Against running government institutions as a personal business which is contrary to speculated rules, the NECA boss said that the implication of total absence of governance framework, which is meant to regulate the activities of the agencies, three and half years down after dissolution of previous boards, is unfortunate especially for a government that prides itself in the rule of law.
Therefore, he urged government to ensure and encourage the practice of good corporate governance at all levels, saying the Acts establishing the various agencies had provided for the composition of the board members and in some instance ‘institutional representatives’ to the boards are mentioned.
Recall that the Federal Government had in August 2017 nominated former General Secretary of NUPENG, Frank Kokori as the Chair of the board with Vice President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Peters Adeyemi, Treasurer of NLC, Khaleel Ibrahim, representatives of Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Managing Director of NSITF and the Permanent of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment who is the represents the Labour Ministry on the board as members of NSITF.
And in the same vein, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, had in July 2018 said the board of the NSITF would be inaugurated within weeks. And also on another occasion assured then that the board would be inaugurated in order to assist the implementation Committee of the audit committee he set up to study financial infractions in the Fund.
And sometime ago, he announced the implementation committee of the audit report, which had since been established by him to effect the various policy recommendations that are aimed at sanitizing and strengthen the very weak internal audit system of the Fund. But till date, the boards of these agencies are yet to be inaugurated.