There was a mild drama on the floor of the House of Representatives on Tuesday as the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, and member representing Ikeja Federal Constituency, Lagos State, James Faleke, exchanged words.
Ngige had been invited by the lawmakers over the illegal suspension of the management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund.
The minister had accused the management of misappropriating N48bn.
While being questioned by the committee, Ngige queried Faleke’s age, saying he was on the same level with the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
He noted that aside from being age mates with the former Lagos governor, they both had the same political achievements.
“Faleke, they said, is up to 60. You are near my age, but I am at least seven years older than you. I’m sure. I am of the same age with your mentor in Lagos, Asiwaju. I was governor with him at the same time. He was a senator, and I was a senator. I am a two time minister and he was a minister,” he said.
The lawmaker, in an apparent reference to the controversies that trailed Ngige’s election as governor of Anambra State, retorted that Tinubu won his own election “very well.”
The minister then reminded Faleke, who was a former deputy governorship candidate of the APC in Kogi State, how his struggle to replace the governorship candidate of the party, Abubakar Audu, was frustrated after the latter died shortly after they both won the election.
“Mr Minister, please respond,” Faleke fired back.
“I am responding. You yab me, I will yab you 10 times. I am a Lagos boy. You are just a small boy in Lagos. Look at this boy. Mushin boy is talking to a VI boy. I live in Victoria Island,” Ngige said.
Meanwhile, Ngige has said the suspended NSITF management has the opportunity to clear itself of the allegations of financial infractions levelled against them.
A statement on Wednesday by the ministry of labour and employment spokesman, Mr Charles Akpan, said the minister said this in his submission at the investigative hearing by the House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on the Arbitrary Breach of Presidential Directive on the Suspension of Management and Executive Members of NSITF and other Government Agencies by Ministers.
Ngige stated that he did not go contrary to presidential directives, emphasising that the suspension also followed procedural compliance with the relevant authorities.
Ngige further said that the NSITF had failed to submit Annual Audited Accounts to assist in preparing annual reports to Mr President.