NSITF washes hands off corruption allegations

The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) on Tuesday denied allegations of corruption, describing it as falsehood and the handiwork of extortionists, blackmailers and detractors.

The Managing Director of NSITF, Maureen Allagoa, while reacting to a statement by a civil society group – Anti-Corruption, Good Governance and Human Rights Watch Network (AGHRWN), which claimed that rot of corruption oozes in the agency under her watch, said the organisation’s books are open for scrutiny

In a statement signed by the agency’s General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Nwachukwu Godson, Allagoa said there have been orchestrated waves of uninformed and baseless publications by phantom groups and persons sponsored to tarnish the image of NSITF.

She vowed that no amount of falsehood, blackmail, and threats will stop her management from ensuring the ongoing transformation of the agency along with the eight-point agenda of the President Bola Tinubu-led administration.

“We have nothing to hide, and our books have been open for public scrutiny since I was appointed as the Managing Director/Chief Executive of the NSITF in 2023. Upon appointment, my exco set a target whose thrust lies in the reform of the agency to fully implement the Employees Compensation Scheme.

“The truth is that the NSITF at the moment is probably one of the most scrutinised agencies of government and no verdict of guilt has been established beyond the usual nebulous tattletales and beer parlour gossip that lack logic and facts.

“Following petitions from Nigerians, among whom are those with genuine concerns and others with undisguised mal fide, the anti-corruption agencies have been investigating those petitions but are yet to pin any wrong doing to me or my exco.

“We therefore dare those behind these publications to make available to the public, one proven case of corruption against the NSITF since I assumed office in February 2023.

“Urging the ICPC and EFCC to investigate the NSITF with indictment in mind is an exercise in vain for we fear no scrutiny. We went the extra mile to revive the anti-corruption unit in the fund, resourced them to effectively discharge their duty, and thereby primed all staff towards transparency.

“In the past one year, the fund has held only one procurement process, apart from an ongoing one which is for the procurement of the internet-based information technology facilities, without which the day to day running of the Fund will grind to a halt.

“We convened the Parastatals Tenders Board to endorse and transmit same to the Ministerial Tenders Board to equally approve or reject. When a certain phony Anti-Corruption, Good Governance and Human Rights Watch Network accused the fund of “violating public procurement process,” we wondered where and how.

“Even though we have restrained ourselves from descending into the vortex of recriminations with faceless persons and groups, there is no better time to call the bluff of these amorphous people. Prove your allegations or stay away! Nigerians are not wet behind the ears or ripe for the picking. Nigerians are not gullible to buy into unsubstantiated sweeping allegations, punctuated with threats.

“Yesterday there was a deliberate distortion of facts about the N47m payment which the committee set up by the former Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Simon Lalong, investigated and found no wrongdoing,” She said.

She also said; “The detractors were not tired as they went on to allege that PAYE deductions as well as National Housing Fund under the previous administration were not remitted to the appropriate bodies. This also failed at the consistent knocking of facts as we showed evidence to the contrary.

“Why have our traducers not investigated hundreds of dependent and disability beneficiaries on our monthly payroll? Are they aware of the number of deceased dependents who are under the care of the NSITF until the last child graduates from a high institution or attains the 21 years of age?

“What then is this “oozing corruption” as alleged by AGHRWN and cohorts? Is it that despite challenges, the NSITF in the last one year, conducted 5,592 Occupational Safety and Health Awareness exercises to reduce accidents in workplaces across the nation?

“Is it that we dispensed social security benefits under different compensation packages to 20,531 beneficiaries in one year? For the benefits of critics, these first two steps of the Employees’ Compensation are interdependent or inversely proportional. Topnotch occupational safety and health brings down the incidence of workplace accidents, hence , reduction in amount paid out as claims and compensation.

“With all these achievements and more, I wonder the reason some persons are determined to continue casting the NSITF in bad light.”