The Chairman of the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on the investigation of non-remittance of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) contributions, Hon. Chukwuma Onyema, on Monday summoned the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, and the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Ahmed Idris, to appear before it unfailingly today to clarify the circumstances surrounding the non-remittances and by extension non-compliance with the Employee Compensation Act 2010 on one percent contribution by employers to the NSITF Fund.
Also summoned to appear before it is the Director General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze.
Speaking at a one-day investigative hearing on the non remittance of the NSITF contributions by the federal, states and local governments and other related matters, Onyema said the committee needed “very serious” details from the relevant agencies in order to get to the root cause of the problem.
He insisted that all the agencies summoned must appear today.
The National Assembly is also expected to adjourn for the Christmas break after today’s plenary.
The investigation was pursuant to a motion on the floor of the House on the “Need for investigation of non Remittance of contributions by the federal government, state governments and local governments into the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) from 2010 to Date”.
The lower House had then passed resolution setting up the ad-hoc committee with a clear mandate to investigate the said allegations and report back for further legislative action.
Nonetheless, Director General, NSITF, Mr. Adebayo Shomefun, told the committee that the Federal Government alone had not remitted the sum of N17 billion to the fund, though there are further indications that the figure may be higher.
He said some states and local government employees as well as agencies including the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) are yet to be registered with the fund, a situation which further blurred the actual amount being owed it.
Also, speaking at the hearing, Ngige, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr. Bolaji Adebiyi, said consultations were ongoing with Adeosun on the possibility of paying up the debts by the end of the year.
“Before the end of the year, sometime will happen,” he assured lawmakers.
It further emerged that the Nigeria Police Force may have lost about 3,000 personnel at the peak of the insurgency in the country in 2013.
The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who was represented by the Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of insurance, Ishaku Mohammed lamented that no payments had been released to victims of the insurgency.
Notably, the police is yet to be registered with the NSITF and is estimated to be owing N16.2 billion as outstanding contributions to the NSITF.
The IG said: “In 2010 when the Act was enacted, the police jubilated, knowing we will be major beneficiary of the Act. But, unfortunately, seven years later, we are yet to reap the benefits of this scheme.
“Anytime we hear that some monies had been appropriated to NSITF, we rushed and asked them the position of our claims; they always tell us we are not part of the money appropriated to them; that it’s not even enough to pay the main stream civil servant, talk of the police…”
He said: “This calls for concern considering the rate at which we lose our policemen. For example, in 2013, we lost over 3,000 policemen because it was the peak of insurgency; there are lots of gunshot injuries which had not been taken care of up till now. Thank God recently, about N5 billion was appropriated and we are willing to access it and pay for group life insurance…today, we have a lot of claims unpaid.”
However, Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, had while declaring the hearing open underscored the objectives of the NSITF Act which are subsumed in the objectives of the Employee’s Compensation Act 2010 (ECA).
According to him, “Under the provisions of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund Act, 2012, more specifically in Sections 10, 11 and 13 all employers classified therein are mandated to remit all contributions in respect of their employees to the Board of the Trust Fund on a monthly basis failing which they will be liable to sanctions in line with the stipulations in Section 14 of the Act.”
He said allegation of non-remittance by the three tiers of government for over a period of 17 years was received with disbelief, thus, warranting the investigation by the House.
The Speaker said: “It must be stated that the present administration is fully committed to the Public Sector Reforms, including the sphere of Public Finance Management to which series of Policy and legislative interventions have been instituted. These reform measures have been on since the year 2000 and it should not be heard of that public agencies would act in a manner contrary to the spirit of the reforms. The least expectation is that government will lead by example.”