- The minister of labour and employment, Dr Chris Ngige, failed to attend the 2019 May Day celebration
- The minister’s relationship with the Nigerian Labour Congress has been frosty of late, following Ngige’s treatment of the former NUPENG general secretary, Frank Kokori
- According to the NLC president, Ayubba Wabba, in all his years of dealing with ministers of the Federal Republic, the NLC had never come across one as dishonest and deceitful as Ngige
- Wabba said Ngige wants Nigerians to believe that Kokori does not have what it takes to lead the NSITF
- Ngige’s aide, however, claimed that the minister was ill and had been home recuperating since Sunday, April 28
Dr Chris Ngige was absent at the 2019 May Day celebration at the Eagles Square, Abuja; making it the first time in many years that a sitting labour minister would fail to identify with the nation’s labour movement during the celebration.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was, however, present at the event to celebrate with Nigerian workers, even though Ngige did not show up, Tribune reports.
Legit.ng notes that the minister’s relationship with the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has been frosty of late, following Ngige’s treatment of the former general secretary of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Union (NUPENG), Chief Frank Kokori.
Ngige was lampooned by the NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, during the celebration, with the latter declaring that the minister did not attend the May Day event because of the mischief he has engaged in, at the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) and on the appointment of Chief Frank Kokori, as the chairman of the NSITF’s board.
According to Wabba, Ngige had lied on many issues surrounding Kokori’s appointment and the activities of the NLC.
He said: “Comrades, distinguished guests, a number of you might have followed our recent exchanges with the minister of labour and employment, Dr Chris Ngige, over his several maneuvers since 2017 to prevent the inauguration of the NSITF board under the chairmanship of Chief Frank Ovie Kokori.
“In all our years of dealing with ministers of the Federal Republic, we have never come across one as dishonest and deceitful as Dr Ngige.
“From our account of what has transpired since September 2017, it is very obvious that the minister has been bent on manipulating the situation and bringing up one deceit upon another to enable him to remain the sole manager of the NSITF, as long as he remained minister of labour and employment.
“It is, however, the most dishonorable thing for a minister to tell bare-faced lies like this. It is also very disrespectful of Mr President to lie so blatantly that the president never approved Chief Kokori’s appointment as NSITF chairman.
“During the ceremony honouring the heroes of June 12 993, at the Aso Rock Banquet Hall, President Buhari openly assured Chief Kokori that his appointment as NSITF chairman stands."
According to Wabba, Ngige wants Nigerians to believe that Chief Kokori does not have what it takes to lead the NSITF. The NLC president said this is a very laughable claim because chairmen of parastatals and agencies have nothing to do with the day to day running of these organizations.
He said: “They are appointed to ensure that the board performs its oversight function of the management of these organizations. The executive management of these organisations is made up of all requisite professional to run the organisation successfully.”
He continued: “The above notwithstanding, Chief Kokori ran one of the most complex trade unions in Nigeria, to national and international acclaim. Chief Kokori got a Masters degree in Development Studies from the prestigious Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, Netherlands, 35 years ago, in 1984.
“The minister was surely only engaging in mischief by trying to cast aspersions on the ability of Chief Kokori in this regard.
“We wish to conclude this segment of the speech on this NSITF saga by saying that we have tolerated Ngige and his antics long enough. From this May Day, we will henceforth not allow him to toy with the funds of NSITF which are contributions on behalf of the toiling workers of Nigeria in the private sector. Enough is Enough.”
Ngige’s special assistant on media, Nwachukwu Obidiwe, in a phone chat, however, said the minister was unable to attend the May Day celebration because of ill health. To support the claim, Obidiwe pointed out that Ngige had not been to the office since Monday, April 29.
Obidiwe said all that was contained in the NLC speech were lies, in a two-paragraph statement hurriedly issued by him and titled: “Why the Hon Minister of Labour/Employment Was Absent at Worker’s Day Rally.”
The statement read: “Contrary to uncivilized attitude and barefaced lies contained in the address of the president of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, I wish to state for the avoidance of doubt that the honorable minister of labour and employment, Senator Chris Ngige, was absent at today’s Worker’s Day rally for reasons of ill health.
“The minister has been down with flu since last Sunday. He met his doctors last Monday and has since been at home recuperating.”
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Recall that Legit.ng previously reported that the minister for labour and employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said the appointment of Chief Frank Kokori as chairman of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund never got presidential approval.
In a statement released by his special assistant, Nwachuku Obidiwe, Ngige dismissed the claims by the Nigeria Labour Congress. He said Kokori lacked the requisite experience to lead the fund.
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