Opinion: Again, NSITF Management Goofs
“Greatness does not lie in the inability to fall, but ability to rise when you fall”
– Obafemi Awolowo
The quotation above is not new to many Nigerians, what remains new is the decision not to adopt the message in it. This article is expected to ignite a bounce back for those who have failed to understand the logic in reactive Public Relations. It is hoped that Ngozi Olejeme and her team at NSITF will be reminded or further educated on Awolowo’s central message in those few lines.
Irregularity in the civil service has eaten so deep that despite the change wave in the country, many are yet to adapt to the anti-corruption mantra President Muhammadu Buhari prides on by switching from “business as usual” to best practices. NSITF is one of those agency meshed in this mud.
In April 2015, an article tagged “Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund scam alert: Ngozi Olejeme and board of Directors are fraudsters” went viral, indicting management of the fund – painting a canvass of gross mismanagement, massive fraud, abuse of office and impunity – measurable only with a Richter scale. The M.D, Manir Abubakar was swift in disclaiming the allegations in a show of shame that would have better been avoided for he just meandered about the questions raised with no satisfactory answer.
Ideally, we expect that the management of the fund would go beyond media in response by burying all the allegations in actual terms, they didn’t and suddenly another cry pops.
Daily Trust of Wednesday 3/06/2015, page 21 carried the complain of NSITF staff from Kaduna axis, this time, unpaid allowances as against the previous statement of the MD and to our greatest surprise, the management seemed ready to battle them ink-for-ink as same Daily Trust of Monday June 8, 2015 (page 24) took the response of the fund via its Head, Corporate Affairs, Aliu Zubairu where he claimed that “it had not been the policy of the fund to pay new recruits 28 days allowance”. He also said payment of furniture, dressing and education allowances had started in batches.
NSITF is a financial institution that can fend for itself via the revenue it generates amounting to billions of naira monthly. Only mismanagement explains the financial chaos that dubbed the fund. These monies are been raised by the field staff and nothing has been paid in for of O.P.E to cover for transport on the field.
It is pathetic that Mr Zubairu has toed the path of unprofessionalism of this sort. The civil service vide rule 130105 prescribed 28 days allowance in lieu of accommodation and other expenses. Since when did NSITF become a government agency that wheels on “tradition” as he calls it, other than laws? Also, no staff has been paid in batches as Zubairu claims; we call on him to reel out names of beneficiaries and criteria for selection for we are yet to see one.
It is also pertinent to note that the fund is currently recruiting not considering paying outstanding staff allowances first, a move contradicting Civil Service rule 020107 that clearly prohibits the employment of unpaid staff.
We expect that management should have been factual to itself and staff especially as a new regime is now in place. All the articles and stories of staff on mainstream media being shortchanged should have been approached with care; the fraudster management can’t stop stealing as the cancer has eaten too deep to be redressed. This fund should be Buhari’s starting point.
This message was written by a concerned staff that pleads anonymity.