The Director-General of Industrial Training Fund, ITF, Joseph Ntung Ari has been accused of engaging in appointment racketeering and tribal bigotry in the choice of the candidates’ recruitment exercise.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), an Islamic human rights advocacy group raised alarm over the illegal deals of the ITF boss by calling on the President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene and save the ITF from total ethnic and tribal bigots.
According to the MURIC statement, it accused the Director-General of ITF, Mr. Joseph N. Ari of nepotism, wrongful appointments, and marginalizing Muslims in the running of the agency.
The statement appealed to the government for full-scale investigations into the affairs of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) activities of DG at the headquarters in Jos, Plateau State.
MURIC statement reads thus; “A lot of rigmarole is going on at the ITF, Jos, Plateau State. Nepotism is at its peak in this agency as wrongful employment of Plateau indigenes is the rule of the day.
They expressed worries that Muslims suffer marginalisation in a reckless Christianisation and Plateaurisation policy in the agency by the leadership of Joseph N. Ari .
“In the first place, the appointment of the present Director-General of the agency, Mr. Joseph N. Ari, did not follow due process. He was first employed into ITF in 2006 as Deputy Director on a permanent and pensionable basis after retiring as a Permanent Secretary in the Plateau civil service.
Sequel to complaints about this irregularity, the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment investigated the matter.
It was established that he was receiving a pension from the state’s civil service. The ministry, therefore, terminated his appointment and ordered that all money paid to him by ITF should be refunded. But this was not done.
In administrative abracadabra, however, the same Mr. Joseph N. Ari was announced as the new Director-General in 2016. This was done in total disregard of civil service rules.
“This flagrant violation of rules in his appointment emboldened Mr. Ari towards administrative arrogance with the belief that he is a sacred cow.
He Christianised his management team as 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.
Of the 487 staff employed by him in 2019, only 90 are Muslims. This is just 18.48%. Christians were 81.52%. Muslims enjoyed just 20% of staff training and development.
“Besides, Mr. Ari has been pursuing an aggressive and unapologetic Plateaurisation policy. Indigenes of Plateau State were made to flood ITF even though most of those appointments were irregular and inappropriate.
Some of the indigenes were allegedly asked to obtain illegal certificates of indigeneship from other parts of the country like Bauchi, Nasarawa, etc after realising that the quota for Plateau State had been filled and exceeded.
“While we are aware that there may be certain privileges accruing to indigenes in the name of ‘catchment area’, it is our contention that such privileges should not be at the risk of sacrificing excellence on the altar of mediocrity.
Neither should it ignore basic civil service rules. The ITF story raises more questions than answers and only a full-scale inquiry can reveal the truth.
“For instance, is it true that a man who had retired from the Plateau civil service and was receiving his pensions was again employed on permanent and pensionable basis at ITF? Is it also true that the same man who was recommended for termination of appointment by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment was still made the Director General of ITF?
“We contend that ITF which was established under Decree 47 of 1971 (amended by ITF Act 2011) is today a den of irregularities and a federal agency where civil service decorum is on permanent sabbatical.
It is now very glaring that those who accuse others of nepotism and marginalisation are actually the worst culprits. The mother of all nepotism is in ITF, Jos
We therefore call for a full-scale investigation into the management of affairs of this agency from the period that Mr. Joseph N. Ani was appointed into the agency (2006) after retiring as permanent secretary in the Plateau civil service.”