NSITF Stability Group dissociates from ASSBIFI strike, accuses leader of rogue unionism

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The Stability Group of the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions(ASSBIFI) of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund has today in a press statement dissociated itself from “today’s politically motivated industrial action, declaring that the leader of the unit ASSBIFI, Bala Tijani has drifted from a hitherto declared crusade for the welfare of staff to rogue unionism”.

In a statement in Abuja today, the group numbering 3700 staff members employed between 2016-2023, and whose leaders chose anonymity for now, for strategic reasons, said they would watch no further as Bala and his cohorts hide under the facade of unionism to drive selfish political pursuits, corruption, orchestrated witch hunt and mischief detrimental to the collective interests of staff members.

“Comrades, we write you on behalf of the 3700 staff members who hitherto belonged to the ASSBIFI NSITF Unit. We have watched with, distress, dismay and great pain how the present leadership of our unit ASSBIFI led by Mr Tijanni Bala and his cohorts has been engaging in anti- union, anti- staff welfare activities by delving into politics and dragging all of us into unnecessary confrontation with the relevant authorities including but not limited to our Ministry, now being managed by our able Permanent Secretary.

“We shall not fold our arms and watch Bala and his mischievous journey men confront and defy the constituted authority of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, now led by the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Daju Kachalon who has already apprehended the internal dispute in line with section 18 of the Trade Disputes Act and invited both the unions and the NSITF management to a meeting on Tuesday, 27th June, 2023.

“Whose interest is Bala and cohorts representing by shunning negotiation properly convened by the Ministry? Certainly not that of the staff of the NSITF.

“Moreover, we have traced the tacit underground support being given by ASSBIFI National to Tijanni Bala and renegades. We are therefore serving the Management, the notice of withdrawal of our entire membership from ASSBIFI.

“We are doing so under the ILO principle of FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION and Section 40 of 1999 Constitution as amended.

“We shall communicate in writing to the Management in due course, our new Unions as we discuss with NUBUIFFE and others when we conclude our negotiations with any other serious like minded Unions. Management will receive our letter duly signed by each member.

“Consequently, our check off dues for June 2023 and other succeeding months should not be paid to ASBIFFI forthwith. We further urge all good Staff members to go about their duties.”

The statement further added that the disputed issues were not new and were being effectively handled by the current Management more than the ex-while Excos before it and should therefore be accorded support.

“For example on remittance of deducted taxes, pensions and NHF as alleged by rogue unionists, the
management showed evidence that our current taxes and pensions are up to date.They also showed evidence of agreed plans for remittance on monthly installment, of the remaining arrears of the 2013- 2017 in the next few months.

“Bala and his clique know that this present Exco Management has done their best in liquidating these funds not accrued in their tenure. He knows that the three previous non- performing Excos led by two of the persons funding this insurrection couldn’t achieve half of the strides made in staff welfare by the current Exco.

“Bala and his cabal know full well that the current Exco promised that staff NHF will get to them shortly and infact some have gotten.

“Besides, on the issue of staff demotion through the merger of Deputy Manager and Manager, we put on record that the union Exco led by Bala with his selfish acolytes were part of all discussions and even signed the report and request by former Managing Director, Mike Akabogu to the National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission that subsequently froze further promotion for 2021/ 2022 unless the fund reverts to the Public Service 9-tier wage structure. They also froze any wage review in NSITF until these two conditions are met. Management on the instructions of the Ministry set up a mixed Committee of Management and our two Unions representatives.

“We were represented and the final report/ agreement was sent to NSIWC. Our Unions’ Exco followed to the parent Ministry and NSIWC to defend the report before it was implemented and the embargo on promotions lifted. Some us benefitted from the promotion exercises, and others did not. Who is at fault please?

“A sensible and honest unionism will seek for another round of discussion on this from management and the Ministry, seeking for a buy-in for a new proposal to the NSIWC. This is certainly not what armtwisting, character assassination and threats can achieve.

“We detest the current attempt to heat up the fund, cause chaos in an already discovered plan by the union and their external sponsors to cause the dissolution of a performing management team. We are no morons.

“The road side talk of signing the report under duress holds no water. It sounds stupid for Bala and Co to claim they were marched under duress to defend the report at NSIWC, went to the Ministry twice to defend same.

“Has Bala told all of us that at a time, the then Minister refused to agree to some points in the report including the merger of Deputy Manager and Manager and referred the union back to Congress only for the Bala led union to emerge with the resolution to defend the merger. Why this deceit and lies now?

“Similarly the review of wages and salaries has the backing of Bala who from available records was until recently a staff in the Finance Department. He and four other union members were a part of making of the new wages with the Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission based on the approval to match NSITF with TETFUND, of course predicated on ability to pay,” the group said.

“Why didn’t Bala and cohorts confront them at National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission? They accepted only to realise six months later that consolidated salaries is not good.

“We wish to also inform all that wages in the public service – from the President to the last man in the service is consolidated including transport, housing, utilities, lunch. Only special allowances are not. Bala knows this, yet decided to incite members.

“The issue of recruitment of staff since 2020 and promotion is one that fully exposed the nepotism that Bala and cabal have been trying hard to disguise. The recruitment of qualified persons to fill vacant positions where the existing staff members fail on grounds of competence cannot be faulted. The promotion of deserving staff members who passed exams and turning down others who failed the promotion exam or were not promoted because of lack of vacancies can also not be faulted.

“60% of our membership came into NSITF between 2016 to 2023 and ASSBIFI both Domestic unit and National have been ‘swallowing’ our check off dues, of course being mismanaged, misappropriated by Bala and his cabal without accountability.

“Time has come for Bala and his gang, one of whom is in the Real Estate Department in the Head Office to account for about N64m said to have been spent on travels and publicity since they were elected.

“There is no basis whatsoever to witch hunt a properly recruited staff members whose appointments passed statutory endorsements from the Head of Service of the Federation, the Ministry of Labour and Employment Budget Office, and the Federal Character Commission, the final approval authority and the President in the case of Management Exco.

“But as workers in unionism, do we have the right to dictate to our employer how to run his enterprise. Staff who failed exams set by Public Service Institute as advised by Office of the Head of Service were shown their score. Same for Computer based tests by Human Resources Department.

“It is therefore wicked for Bala and his rouge unionists to demand that all staff employed between 2020 and 2023 be first sacked and then followed by 2016 to 2020 not withstanding the very high unemployment rate in the country even when their engagement followed due process.

“Intrestingly some of his criminal cohorts are also caught in this bracket but unfortunately behaving and talking as if NSITF were their birthplace,” the group further said.

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