Minister of Labour and Employment Dr. Chris Ngige has threatened to sue the Chairman of the House of Representatives on Finance James Falake, for alleging that he inserted N2 billion projects in the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) 2020 budget .
He accused Falake of either being “mischievous or ignorant of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) Act or both.”
Ngige also accused the lawmaker of abusing “parliamentary privilege,” being ignorant of the fact that ministers cannot pad budgets because the final products come from the National Assembly.
He said he was already writing Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila on his readiness to ”go to court to challenge Faleke for a abusing his parliamentary privilege.”
The minister added: ”It is instructive here to note that ministers do not award contracts. They neither sit in the Ministerial Tenders Board nor Tenders Board of parastatals.
“Even, the Ministry of Labour’s representatives on the NSITF main board are not part of the tenders board of that parastatal. So, how, when and where did the minister sit in that board to choose, much less pad the budget?
“It is therefore easy to attribute Faleke’s motion on the floor of the House on Tuesday to a consummate parliamentary mischief or outright ignorance of the BPP Act or both.
“If Faleke is desperately clutching a straw on behalf of his constituents, he must definitely grow bigger than his infantile approach.
”Faleke also brought my wife into everything. My wife is a civil servant. She is a permanent secretary in Service Welfare Office in the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation. I didn’t see any circular that they sent from that office so I don’t know what they mean.
“They should not drag my family into a matter they are doing politically. It is unfair to my family. They should insulate my family from that, especially my wife, who is discharging her functions innocently as a civil servant, carrying out instructions of Head of Service of the Federation.”
Meanwhile, the board of the NSITF has backed the decision to probe the suspended Managing Director and other top officials of the agency.
Chairman of the board, Austin Enajemo-Isire, after an emergency meeting yesterday, advised the management and staff of the agency to remain steadfast in the discharge of their duties.
In a statement, Enajemo-Isire assured the acting management and staff that all actions taken by the board are in the interest of the institution.
He directed the Acting Executive members appointed by Ngige to take charge of the running of the agency immediately.
A statement by Enajemo-Isire reads in part: “The Board Audit Committee has the responsibility for that assignment in the joint panel to investigate the financial and procurement breaches and other infractions.
“All board members are to meet with the supervisory minister of labour and employment very shortly on this matter in the interest of the Fund and all stakeholders.”