The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has pleaded for caution in the handling of fall-outs from the appointment of Frank Kokori as NSITF (Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund) chairman by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, which was later replaced (after seventeen months) with Austin Enajemo-Isire due to the opposition of the Minister of Labour, Chris Nigige, to the said appointment.
In a release issued by the Coordinator of Media and Publications for CACOL, Adegboyega Otunuga on behalf of the Executive Chairman of the coalition, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he noted, “Report has it that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government had initially nominated and approved the appointment of Comrade Frank Kokori, a former Secretary General of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Employees of Nigeria (NUPENG) into the NSITF, which is a parastatal under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment with majority of its contributive funds coming from the workers, Federal Government and the Employers to reflect the Tripartite arrangement of the board, with the three major institutions being duly represented on the board while the Chairman of the Board is usually chosen by the President of the federation on the advice of the Minister of Labour.
“Though the President was said to have recommended Chief Frank Kokori as the Board Chairman prior to Chris Ngige’s objection based on what he termed as the unprecedented looting of the board’s funds that saw over N5b (Five Billion Naira) withdrawn in a single day without any vouchers issued for it while over N60bn (Sixty Billion Naira) was confirmed missing and unaccounted for between 2011 and 2016 by the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) leading to serious abridgment of workers’ entitlements and payment of NSITF workers overtime. It is against this critical background that CACOL as an anti-corruption and Open leadership centre hereby calls for restraint on the part of organized labour which is just one of the three main bodies supplying these funds, in proceeding with protection of whatever interests that could be at stake, realizing that the interests of majority Nigerian workers, whose funds are usually deducted and the Nigerian public, should be more paramount in resolving whatever conflicts that may arise on the choice of the board Chairman for this vital parastatal to be able to retain its focus on its statutory obligations.”
The CACOL Boss added, “While we are clearly against a resort to violence over the presence of a multitude in the official residence of the Minister of Labour at his ASOKORO, Abuja residence on official and private matters, we advise the NLC and NUPENG to be more circumspect in dealing with delicate and official matters in a Commando fashion of laying a siege on public official residence with tankers and numerous members of their unions. We believe that since Ngige and the federal government have not breached any of the known labour or public law by substituting Frank Kokori’s name (whom we learnt has been given another offer of presiding over the Pa Michael Imoudu Labour Centre in Ilorin), it would have been more appropriate to engage in more diplomatic consultation, reasoning, etc., that should allow for a more acceptable, long-lasting and patriotic outcome that would be in the best interest of all stakeholders and the nation to crystalize eventually.” The statement read.