Non-Governmental Orgnaization Responds to Attempt to Blackmail DG ITF, Joe Ari

A Non-governmental Orgnaization, Budget Tracking and monitoring, has condemned the alleged sponsored publications and protest against the Director General of the industrial Training Funds, ITF, Joe Ari.

“As a registered non-governmental organization, Budget monitoring and accountability, which activities and mandate to ensure the rights of Citizens, budget tracking and constituency projects across the 15 countries , in the west African Continent, our attentions has been drawn to the allegations of an alleged “ illicit transactions” against the Director General of the Industrial Training Fund, ITF by a self-styled Concerned Citizens for Change, Accountability and Probity, and the Joint Civil Society Task Force on anti-corruption The protesters demanded the sack of the ITF’s director, saying this would make good the promises of the government to rid the country of corruption.”

“.As a Non-Governmental organization, Budget Tracking and Monitoring , for the purpose of clarity does not engage in defence of individual, groups or institutions, but rather monitoring and tracking of budgetary allocations and utilizations of same.”

The group explained in a press statement made available to National Assembly Correspondents, signed by Mohammed Abdulrahaman, in Abuja , on Friday.

Our reactions is coming on the heel of the story credited to an online publications, alleging “illicit transactions in ITF”

“For the purpose of clarity, the Budget tracking and monitoring groups for the past one week has been part of the 2021, 2022, Budget Defence in the National Assembly, both at the Senate and the House of Representatives, including the review of the performance of the budgetary allocations to the Industrial Training Fund, ITF.
The report by the online publication, Saharareporters, apart from the fact that is an indictment and a challenge to our organization and the over 200 Journalists who cover both the Senate and the House of Representatives, as it will appears, only Sahara reporters was at the event, is full of fallacy of inconsistency, false equivalence and logic flaw reasoning.

It is suggestive of the fact that every other persons including the lawmakers in the National Assembly , have abdicated their constitutional responsibility to the Civil societies and Saharareporters , as the House Committee rather than stepping down the review would rather applaud the the DG , Joe Ari , and his management in the handling of the ITF.

It is regrettable that a group, a Civil Society they claimed they are throughout their protest and petition, could not substantiate their allegations with facts and figures, but rather present themselves as sponsored group to make a dog breakfast of the achievements of the DG, Joe Ari , as the Lawmakers attested to.
For instance the Eagle eyes Lawmakers throughout the review could not detect any financial infractions in ITF.
Suffice to mention our observations at what transpired at the event

As a way of tackling the rising wave of unemployment among youth in Nigeria, the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) is setting up skills acquisition centres for them across the states of the federation.

This is as members of the Senate Commitee on Industry, made subtle lobby for such centres to be sited in their respective senatorial zones .

Setting up of the centres by ITF, came to the fore during budget defence session the agency had with the Senate Committee on Industry on Tuesday.

In his presentation before the committee, the Director General of ITF, Joseph Ari, said the centres are being created to tackle the problem of unemployment in the country particularly among the youths.

From the centres, thousands of youths he added, will be equipped with required innovative skills that will take them off the streets and make them self employed.

“Setting up of the Industrial Skill Training Centres, is central to the core mandate of ITF, the very reason the agency is very resolute and passionate in putting them in place across the states of the federation,” he said.

Apparently impressed with the move of ITF, some members of the committee like Senators Jibrin Isa (APC Kogi East ), Christopher Ekpeyong (PDP Akwa Ibom North West), Danjumah La’ah ( PDP Kaduna Central) and Muhammad Adamu Bulkachuwa (APC Bauchi North), asked him about locations of the centres in their states.

Senator Jibrin Isa in particular, complained to the DG that records before him show Kogi West and Central as locations of such centres and not Kogi East .

But the ITF DG in his response said locations of the centres across the states are devoid of political affiliation of people in the states or Senatorial zones.

“In establishing the centres, we consult with respective State Governors for the required buy in at that level but with observation made here today , I promise to also carry along distinguished Senators,” he said.

Earlier in his presentation on 2021 budget implementation by the agency and 2022 budgetary proposals, the ITF boss said while a total budgetary vote of N44.5billion was earmarked for the agency in 2021, the projected estimate for 2022 is N42.5billion , which shows difference of N2.1billion.

He said the N2.291billion capital vote for the year has not been expended due to lack of cash backing for projects lined up for execution.

But the Director of Procurement in his explanation, said all the procurement processes delaying execution of capital component of the agency’s 2021 budget have been done, which will make slated contracts to be executed before the end of the year.

In his closing remarks at the session, the Chairman of the committee, Senator Adetokunbo Abiru, said, “ITF is very germane to the economy of the Nation and needs to redouble its effort in the establishment of skills acquisition and vocational centres across the country.

“Since we have moved from the era of Industrial revolution, such centres should be driven more by innovation,” he said. Protesters At National Assembly Demand Probe, Sacking of Director-General of Industrial Training Fund

Industrial Training Fund (ITF) tackles unemployment with industrial skills training centres as Senators lobby for locations

It had been reported that Ari was also accused of awarding fraudulent contracts to family members without recourse to procedure and due process as well as illegally promoting female workers without regard for public service rules.

Within a few years in office, Sir Joseph Ntung Ari has been able to empower a huge number of citizens of the country in diverse disciplines.

when the current management came on board, it met an organization on the cusp of crisis – that manifested in consistent bad press and restiveness amongst the workforce, but he strived to resolve the crises both internal and external and has been able to return the organization on to the path of growth

Our findings has shown that when the current management assumed office , Ari , announced a template that the management will operate- Strategies for Mandate Actualization within six-year plan that was conceived comprised of short term, medium and long term goals.

According to him It commenced in late 2016 to terminate in 2022, saying It was designed to aggressively address service challenges, infrastructure deficits, revenue and a gamut of other strictures impinging the actualization of the Fund’s mandate.

“Barely two years into its implementation, the ITF has trained over 60,000 Nigerians from 2,300 organisations.

‘We. trained over 50,000 youths and other vulnerable groups were equipped with skills for employability and entrepreneurship through programmes including the National Industrial Skills Development Programme, (NISDP), the Women Skills Empowerment Programme (WOSEP), Training on Wheels and the Technical Skills Development Project (TSDP), among several other initiatives.

In all, about 150,000 Nigerians have benefited from ITF training programmes since assumption of the current management”

He emphasied that the ITF implemented numerous technical skills acquisition programmes as well as introduced new initiatives including the National Industrial Skills Development Programme (NISDP), the Women Skills Empowerment Programme (WOSEP) and the Skills Development Programme for Youths in Construction Trade (CONSEP) among several others.
‘The NISDP, our flagship technical vocational skills acquisition programme, which was run twice in 2016, has trained about 30,000 youths drawn from the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) between late 2016 to date.

‘In the last phase of the programme, new ideas were introduced. Trade areas were streamlined to three, namely: Welding and Fabrication, Tailoring / Fashion Design, and Plumbing and Pipe Fitting.

‘Another tweak was unlike previous phases where the ITF depended on State governments to provide start-up kits, the ITF provided start-up packs to all the 11,100 beneficiaries of the programme .
He said WOSEP is another skills acquisition programme that was targeted at another vulnerable segment, in this case the women folk. and in the Programme over 500 rural women drawn from 13 states and the FCT were trained across 32 centres

‘ Eleven trade areas were covered, namely: Event Management, Cosmetology, Poultry Farming, Bead Making, Baking and Pastry, Soap/Disinfectant/Detergent Making, Hair Making, Food Processing, Tailoring and Fashion Design, Tie and Dye and Electrical Installations.

‘Passion to profession (training on wheels), over 120 trainees were trained in tailoring and garment making using our mobile training units.

‘The Construction Skills Empowerment Programme, CONSEP was initiated in 2017 with the aim of equipping Nigerians with skills for the construction sector.

‘A total of 1,900 Nigerians from 19 states of the Federation and the FCT were trained in five trade areas namely: Brick Making, Plaster of Paris, Tiling, Electrical Installation and Carpentry. Our commitment is to continue with this programme until Nigerians are equipped with the required skills to stem incidences of building collapse and to supplant the foreigners in this sector.
‘ITF Model Skills Training Centre (MSTC), Abuja, the Management procured the remainder of equipment that had stalled the graduation of trainees of Facility Technology and Mechatronics at the centre. With the installation, trainees of the Mechatronics Department have graduated while Facility Technology trainees will graduate later this year.

“The issue of certification, which was part of the reasons for the delay in graduation has been resolved. Today, a graduate of our MSTC is a proud holder of the National Innovative Diploma Certificate which is equivalent to the National Diploma award by polytechnics and monotechnics.
“Similarly, the Fund retooled and refitted its Industrial Skill Training Centres (ISTCs) in Kano, Ikeja and Lokoja with the state-of-the-art training equipment for them to be able to impart cutting edge skills to Nigerians. These centres have since been chosen by the Federal Government for the N-Power programme’.
In keeping faith with ITF enabling Act that every Employer, having either five or more employees in its establishment, OR having less than five employees but with a turnover of fifty million naira (N50m) and above per annum, shall, in respect of each calendar year, or on the prescribed date, contribute to the Fund one percentum (1%) of its total annual payroll; All Employers who pay their annual Training Contribution have a duty to train indigenous staff and shall accept Students on Industrial Attachment.

The Fund paid a total of Six Billion, Four Hundred and Fifty-One Million, Three Hundred and Sixty-Five Thousand, Ninety-Two Naira, Fifty-Six Kobo (N6,451,365,092.56) as training reimbursement to Four Hundred and Thirty (430) companies that met all criteria for such reimbursement.

On the infrastructure deficits in the Fund, he said the management embarked on the completion of Lagos Island, Katsina and Minna Area Offices. All the three Area Offices are at different levels of completion and will be commissioned soon.

‘At the ITF staff School, Management renovated all existing structures, and constructed new classrooms and hostel blocks in order to accommodate more students.
‘It also established a school farm for Agricultural science practicals, and provided and equipped workshops for Technical Science, Home Economics, Chemistry, Physics and Biology subjects. As a result of these developments, the school has now been accredited as a WAEC centre.

The Fund disbursed a total of N199,800,000.00 to 289 staff as housing and car loans.

The intention of the revolving loan scheme is to ensure that staff of the Fund own their own houses and have no transportation problems.
A total of 1,646 members of the Fund’s workforce were sponsored for capacity development.

1,517 were sponsored on short term staff development programmes,
58 were sponsored on professional membership in their various professional fields,
42 benefitted from long term staff development programmes,

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