The stage is set for a battle royale between former Labour leader and National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, and the country’s Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, following a threat by the former Edo Governor to sack the minister from the APC.
Not a whimper of protest or response has been heard from Ngige. The party chief took on the minister on account of his refusal to swear in members of the board of Parastatals under his ministry. He did not spare other unnamed ministers.
It was gathered that the party leader has been on war-path with Ngige over his refusal to inaugurate the National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), which the Minister says he didn’t do because of the investigation of a N40 billion fraud there.
There have been whispers that a party leader in the present dispensation is allegedly involved in the alleged fraud.
Said Oshiomhole to journalists within the precincts of office of the President: “If the minister (Ngige) refuses we will suspend him from the party. You know we must return to internal discipline. For me it is the height of mischief for any minister, you cannot purport to be honourable minister and you act dishonourably and nobody is greater than the party.
“And if the President condones disrespect for his office, I will not condone disrespect for the party. And when we expel the minister we will prevail on the president that he can’t keep in his cabinet people who have neither respect for his own decisions nor have respect for the party without which they would not have been ministers.
“There are no independent candidate in our system, nobody, I emphasis no minister is above the party and they have taken undue advantage of the president’s fatherly disposition.
“Now, it is the same green pen that made them ministers that appointed these boards that they are refusing to swear in. And it is absolutely illegal for a minister in a democracy to prey on the powers of the board because the laws establishing those institutions are clear, that the boards have procedures to follow.
“So, when a minister sits in his office to appropriate the powers of the board in a democracy, not in a dictatorship, award contract that didn’t go through boards, those are clearly abuse of office for which they are liable.
“I am convinced that what they are doing is not with the endorsement of Mr. President. Over the period they have tried to drop the president’s name but I tell them it is the same authority that appoint these people.
“So, we are informing them that it is either they comply to the president’s instructions or they comply with the party’s position or they go and administer outside the government.
“We have respect for ministers but only to the extent that they recognize that they are a product of a political party and we are not negotiating that. If they did that in the past, under our leadership we will not tolerate it. They either comply or we will expel them from the party. When we expel them we will find out how a government can keep a rebel in the cabinet. There is no question about that.”