- As Fund’s In-House Union Accuses DG Of Short-Changing Education Policy
In spite of the Federal Government seeming seriousness about fighting corruption in the land, the Director General of the Industrial Training Fund, ITF, Mrs Juliet Chukka-Onaeko,MFR is at the moment currently enmeshed in a N10 billion naira fraud which the in-house Union of fund alleged that the money has been embezzled by the DG, Dr. Juliet Chukka-Onaeko.
The Union in a petition, forwarded to the Chairman Industrial Training Fund, Governing Council, also copied to all management members of the fund, as well as President -General and General secretary Senior Staff Association of Communications, Transport and Corporations, SSACTAC, also copied to is the President, General Secretary and State Chairman Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees, AUPCTRE stated that thus; “Nigeria’s infrastructure deficits have held our attention since the appointment of Director General, we will round up by looking at other critical infrastructure and explore possible ways where ITF cannot utilize our resources to create jobs ,enhance living standards and attract infrastructure development.”
In the petition dated 15th October,2014, with reference number ITF /HQ/JU//S/14/0016, The Union accused the Director General of cornering a large chunk of money earmarked for the fund’s projects across Nigeria, it also asked; “so how much money are we talking about? Which companies are involved in this mess? Who is fooling and short-changing who?
Moreso, on the petition titled: Our Position on State of Affairs of the Fund the Union also accused Dr Onaeko of always travelling outside the country more than the fund is needed, as was also accused of wasting public funds on her incessant travels.
The Director General, this medium gathered from the petition by the Union that Dr. Juliet of over inflating contracts awarded as well as awarding contracts without due process, however more to their petition is the accusation that she has embezzled a whooping sum of N10 billion in the process and also in unofficial trips.
According to the Union; “Very little of that sum is retained in Nigeria, though the potentials in skills acquisition, job creation, foreign exchange earnings and wealth creation are enormous window dressing.”
The Union also stated that it demands the following; “that the Director General should henceforth desist from contracting core functions of the staff to contractors, staff should not be made redundant; That the director general should follow due process in the award of contacts, also that contracts should not be awarded to contractors who are not pre-qualified.”
Moreso, it demanded that; “All outstanding Reimbursement claims should be paid based on their merit with immediate effect, wherein a client is not qualify, such client should be communicated; The Director General should treat with dispatch all outstanding unscheduled training approvals and communicate same to the affected Area offices .Where the director general is busy to attend to this, she should please delegate accordingly.”
The Union also asked that the Director General should henceforth honour meetings convened at her instance with regards to scheduled time .Where she need to call off, it should be done following due process, situations where officers will be made to wait for seven hours to attend two hours meeting or a meeting that may be called off is unproductive and unacceptable to the unions; moreover it stated the Director General should authorize the payment of all outstanding staff claims/expenses expended in executing officials functions particularly Duty Tour Allowances ,DTA, fuelling of vehicle as well as vehicle maintenance and repairs.”
Other demands include that the Director General should be regular in the headquarters and make herself available and accessible to staff, as well as call her Special Assistant in order to conduct himself in a manner that befits his office.”
The petition was signed by the following members of the Union, Comrade Daniel Jamgbadi, Comrade Ishaya Audu, Comrade Stanley Chukwu ,Comrade Lawal Mohammed Comrade K.S.Alakija ,Comrade Zailani Mohammed ,Comrade Akanbi Ismail ,Comrade Collette Sati, Comrade Ernest Nwanchukwu ,Comrade Edward Kajola, Comrade Ibrahim Garba ,Comrade Patricia Usman, Comrade Alex Pior ,Comrade Waya Edward, Comrade Ta’asum Piavel and Comrade Roselyn Maren.
Meanwhile when contacted through a telephone interview, debunked all the allegations levelled against her and her office by the Union.
She stated that closing down of the ITF staff school by her is to bring new modern equipments that will make the children learn under conducive atmosphere, she also accused the Union leaders of blackmail and deliberate plan to tarnish her carrier, as she stated that the fund has over 10 billion naira left to be offset the contractors bills.
It will be recalled that the former Director -General / Chief Executive, Industrial Training Fund ,Professor Longmas Sambo Wapmuk in his hand over speech said, I shall be leaving an ITF with over Ten billion naira (10bn) ,in its account, this was achieved by our tireless efforts and the amendment of the ITF act in 2011and prudent management.
Wapmuk said; “I wish to thank the Almighty God for the opportunity given me to serve Nigeria through the industrial Training Fun for a period of almost eight years ,also acknowledged the part played in his appointment by Ambassador Fidelis Tapgun through whom I had this opportunity”.
He said, the industrial Training Fund was preparing to graduate its first set of students from our model skills training center in Abuja .
WaPmuk added that with the support of the ITF staff ,we have been able to among others achieved ; “The amendment of the ITF Act, Restructure and reposition the ITF, Establish an ultra-modern MSTC in Abuja offering training in facility Technology ,Mechatronic, information and communication Technology,Computer networking and culinary skills, upgrade and expand the ISTCs Ikeja and Kano and the centre for excellence Jos,completed the headquarters annex building .completed the computer centre in the headquarters ,completed Apapa and Kaduna Area office building.Embarked on the construction of the multipurpose conference in Abuja .Embarked on the construction of Lagos Island Area office building. Embarked on the TSDP with NECA ,introduced the NISDP ,construction of new Area offices at Maiduguri ,Yola ,Katsina ,Uyo and Minna and completed the ISTC ,Lokoja state respectively.”
As it is Nigerians are actually crying silently and even aloud over the recruitment into ITF, as the lament that such recruitment is basically on replacement from office of Director_ General while the situation is further deteriorating. What is left to be seen however is any decisive action from the government and relevant agencies and also from key policy.