December 9, 2022

ITF staff absolve DG of wrongdoing over appointment, promotion

Akin Fadeyi Foundation kicks off ‘What Women Can Do’ competition

By Marie-Therese Nanlong

Staff of the Industrial Training Fund, ITF have urged the public to discountenance the recent media report which accused the Director General of the Fund, Sir Joseph Ari of lopsided appointments and promotions in the organization saying such publication is malicious and aimed at sowing discords and cause disaffection within the Fund.

Two staff unions in the organization, the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies (SSASCGOC) and Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) rose to defend the DG at a press conference in Jos, Plateau State.

Kayode Alakija and Othman Balarabe who are President and Secretary General of SSACSGOC respectively on behalf of the Unions denied any form of protest in the organization as Sir Ari has complied with the laid down procedures in his conduct.

According to the Unionists, “Re: Protest in Nigerian Government Agency, ITF Over Alleged Lopsided Appointments and Promotions. The attention of the two workers’ Unions in the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) – the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies (SSASCGOC) and the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) – has been drawn to the above publication that was published on the website of Sahara Reporters on 8th December 2022.

“The story which is attributed to a faceless group – the Coalition of Northern Human Rights Groups (NHRG) – was based on a protest letter by the group, to the office of the Minister of Trade and Investment (Sic), alleging lopsided appointments and monetization of the promotion process, fraudulent awards of contracts, mandate deviation, nepotism and outright diversion of public funds, against the DG and Management of the ITF.

“While it is not in our place to hold brief for the Director-General and Management, who are quite capable of defending their integrity that is being assailed and tarnished. We, as representatives of the entirety of the ITF workforce, are constrained to react to this malicious publication whose purpose is to sow discords and cause disaffection within the Fund. This is based on our firm understanding of the operations of the Fund, our deep appreciation of what the DG has done since his appointment in 2016, and the implication of the story on the image and reputation of our dear institution.

“Given the above, we as the executive officers of the two unions wish to react as follows: On the allegation of ‘nepotism, lopsided appointments and promotion of workers and monetization of the processes’ the NHRG and Sahara Reporters are merely trying to ‘give a dog a bad name to hang it because, since the assumption of office of the DG, the ITF has operated transparently and in keeping with his pledge to heal wounds and work as unto God in the discharge of his duties. Therefore, every activity, be it employment, promotions and appointments and others has followed a due process which accounts for the industrial harmony that has prevailed in the Fund since his appointment.”

With regards to the recruitments that Management conducted some years back, they added, “It was obvious to everyone associated with the ITF, even before his assumption to the office that the Fund was short-staffed owing to retirements and other sundry reasons. The DG, therefore, commenced the process of recruiting staff to plug the gaping manpower gaps in a transparent process that involved the Federal Character Commission (FCC), the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, and the ITF Governing Council.

“It is, therefore, preposterous that several years since the recruitment exercise, the DG would be accused of ‘lopsided appointment and bias recruitment’ as if he had sole responsibility for such an exercise, or rode roughshod over the other parties to populate the Fund with ‘indigenes of Plateau State and environs’ as the story suggested. Indeed, instead of the suggestion of ‘running the agency as his private estate with the bulk of recruitment into the agency reserved for indigenes of Plateau State and environs,’ the ITF was commended by the Federal Character Commission for adherence to laid down processes in the recruitment exercise.

“There is nothing that suggests the desperation of the medium to impugn the name of the DG than the assertion of “promotion in the agency has been monetized and, in most instances, based on religious and ethnic considerations”. As the staff of the Fund, we wish to state that the promotion exercises are conducted with the supervision and active participation of the supervising Ministry and the Governing Council based on clearly defined parameters in line with the Civil service rule and condition of service. The transparency of the Fund’s promotion exercise has been further enhanced by the introduction of the Computer Based Test (CBT) under the leadership of Sir Joseph N. Ari.

“Having witnessed the process of our promotion exercise, the FMITI adjudged our exercise as one of the best and therefore, directed the Fund to prepare a template that will be adopted by other agencies under the Ministry. Consequently, the issue of lopsided appointments alleged by the publication is not only mischievous but equally satanic and devilish. Interestingly, the last recruitment made by the Fund was in 2019, and the necessary approvals were obtained, and the quota system was duly followed in accordance with the directive of the Federal Character Commission. From 2019 to date, no other recruitment.”

Regarding allegations of ‘fraudulent award of contracts in the Fund, without recourse to the civil service rules (Sic)’, they started, “We state without fear of contradiction that all processes concerning the award of contracts in the ITF are followed to the letter. For a medium that hypes its investigative journalism credentials, we are amazed that it did not cite any instance of such alleged infractions. Indeed, because of the transparent adherence to procedures and due process in its affairs, the ITF was ranked among the first from over 500 agencies of the Federal Government that were surveyed in 2020 in terms of service delivery, transparency, and integrity…

“The report should be discountenanced, as it is a tissue of lies and untruth that have no basis. As a responsible media organization, Sahara reporters should have done well by cross-checking the information they got from what is a faceless and non-existent organization.”