ITF is not a place for nepotism, tribalism, religious bigotry- DG tells MURIC

From Pwanagba Agabus, Jos

The Industrial Training Fund (ITF), has debunked reports making rounds, credited to the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC),  that Muslims are being marginalised, saying the organisation is not in anyway involve in “nepotism, religious bias against Muslims in the area of appointments, nor any other area.

The ITF also said its Director General Mr Joseph Ari is a “detribalised Nigerian who has formed long lasting and enduring relationships cutting across all faiths and tribes in Nigeria”.

The agency through its Director, Public Affairs Department, Suleyol Fred-Chagu, was responding to press release by MURIC entitled: “Investigate Mother of all Nepotism in ITF, Jos”.

It would be recalled that the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) recently, accused the Director-General of ITF, Mr. Joseph Ari of “nepotism, wrongful appointments and marginalisation of Muslims”, in the running of the agency.

However, Fred-Chagu said,
“Whereas it is not the policy of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) to respond to every negative comment, since we believe in the inalienable right of Nigerians to free speech, we take exception to orchestrated efforts to malign, impugn and whip up negative sentiments against the ITF and its functionaries through outright lies and calculated misinformation as contained in the MURIC release.

In order to correct the erroneous impression that the publication may have created in the minds of Nigerians, the ITF is constrained to react that:
“The Director-General is a devoted Christian, whose lineage, including his direct siblings is populated by both religions.

“As a result of this, he does not believe in nepotism and tribalism and does not indulge in religious bigotry. Indeed, the DG is a detribalised Nigerian who has formed long lasting and enduring relationships cutting across all faiths and tribes in Nigeria.

With regards to what the group alleged to be “Christianisation” and “Plateaurisation” agenda of the DG in the ITF, the Public Affairs Director said, “We want to place on record that this is far from the truth and a product of the imagination of the writer as the recruitment exercise conducted in February, 2019 that they hinged their allegations on, followed all due processes and was co-ordinated by the Federal Character Commission, which even issued a letter of compliance to the Fund after the exercise.

“It must equally be noted that the DG recused himself from the examination\ interview sessions that were conducted by a panel that comprised officials of our parent ministry- the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Federal Character Commission and the ITF Governing Council, which is headed by Alhaji Musa Gwadabe, a detribalised Nigerian among others”, the Director explained.

On MURIC’s citing of the constitution of the Fund’s Management to buttress its accusation of ‘Christianisation’ of the Agency, saying only four Muslims were appointed into a fifteen-member management body during his first tenure while five are currently in the team of seventeen in his second term; the Spokesperson said, “This is also sadly untrue. The reality is that as a consummate and experienced administrator, the DG has ensured that all zones are represented in management, which is the first time such has happened in the history of the organisation.

Fred-Chagu further explained that, it was necessary to note that there will be disparities in the constitution of any management due to the fact that other considerations namely which include seniority, merit, vacancies apart from spread of representation are factored into the process.

The Director reminded MURIC that the ITF system was close to 50 years, with a well-developed chain of command that has been structured to the point that the succession process into management has been well entrenched and embedded in the organisation such that no Chief Executive can circumvent the process and impose favoured candidates.

“In addition, the process involves the ITF Governing Council and the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and the DG, therefore, could not have sought to ‘Christianise’ the ITF especially management, even if he wanted to”, Fred-Chagu stressed.

On the allegation that the appointment of the Director-General did not follow due process, the Public Affairs Director said, “We wish to state that the DG withdrew his services from the Plateau State Civil Service and joined the ITF in 2007 (not 2006 as suggested by the writer). 

“He did not retire as suggested by MURIC as he had not served up to 35 years of service, nor was he of retirement age.

“His first promotion as Director came in 2011. The termination of the appointment of the DG in 2015 was said to be in line with the tenure policy for Directors that served up to 8 years.

“However, when the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation discovered that he had only served 4 years as Director, it ordered that the DG be reinstated”, Fred-Chagu further explained. 

The Spokesperson maintained that it was after his reinstatement, that  President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him as the DG/CE of the Industrial Training Fund.

“It must be stated that since his appointment, the organisation that hitherto was restive suffering from poor perception and performance is now excelling.

Fred-Chagu added that since his appointment as DG, the ITF has transformed into one of the key organisations that are contributing significantly to the attainment of the policy objectives of the Federal Government in line with its mandate. 

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