by Christians Gokyo, Jos
The Industrial Training Fund (ITF) is celebrating 50 years of Golden Jubilee of its existence, which was established on the 8th of October, 1971, during General Yakubu Gowon’s administration, that was officially signed into law with the decree to establish the Fund.
The decision to establish the Fund by the Federal Government was said to be informed by the fact that 10 years after the euphoria of Independence, in 1960, of Nigeria, which was still grappling with the twin problems of replacing the departing colonial manpower with qualified Nigerians as well as growing the industrial-base of the New Nation.
Since 1971, in terms of leadership, the Fund has had the leadership at the helm of affairs of 9 Directors-General till date. These include, Dr. Abel Ubeku, Mrs Nene Archibong, Alh.Mohammed Dikko, Alh. Lawal Tudun Wada, Alh. Hassan Ahmed 11, Prof.Olu Emenifo Akerejola, Prof. Longmas Sambo Wapmuk, Dr.Juliet Chukkas Onaeko, and the present DG, Sir. Joseph N. Ari.
Conscience Triumph learnt that, Dr. Ubeku laid the foundation of the Fund in 1971, while Mrs. Achibong developed the first ITF Training Policy and its Human Capital, while Alh. Dikko relocated the Fund’s Headquarters from Lagos to the present location in Jos the Plateau State capital.
Alh. Dikko created new departments, following the upgrading of the Fund, from a Grade ‘B’ parastatal to Grade ‘A’ parastatal and established new Area Offices and introduced ITF National Training Conference.
Alhaji Hassan Ahmed 11, on the other hand, embarked on accelerated staff development, construction and commission of the ITF Headquarters Complex and other infrastructural projects.
During the Prof. Akerejola period, the Fund witnessed enhanced staff welfare and computerization of its activities. Prof. Wapmuk oversaw the refocusing of the Fund’s service offerings from soft to hard skills, the establishment of the ITF Model Skills Training Center (MSTC) Abuja, and the accelerated capacity development of the Fund’s workforce, among others.
Speaking during the 50 Years’ Anniversary Celebration, the Fund’s Director-General, Sir Joseph N. Ari, said the first-phase of ITF’s ‘Reviewed Vision: Strategies for Mandate Actualisation,’ was considered; new skills intervention was introduced, while existing programmes were expanded, leading to the training of over 500,000 Nigerians with cutting-edge technical skills in 4 years.
According to him, the beneficiaries were all empowered with set-up packs for the first time since its establishment, saying that one key achievement of the plan that will terminate in 2024 would be in assembling of the ITF Mobile Phone, which was produced by the Model Skills Training Center, Abuja.
He said, to reduce person-to-person contact, following the COVID-19 pandemic, the SIWES online platform has been created, while the enabling equipment for e-learning have been procured and deployed for remote implementation of their programmes.
The D-G explain further that, the Fund has trained over 200 teachers to update their skills, donated desk and ICT equipment to Government Technical College Bukuru and John Vianney Minor Seminary, in Barkin- Ladi.
He further explained that, the recent survey by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBA) indicates that the number of Nigerians unemployed, particularly the youths, has continued to soar, and the rate has rose from 27.1 percent in Q2,2020 to 33.3 percent in Q4,2020.
Similarly, he noted, the problem of poverty has also not been fully tackled, as it has witnessed a marginal rise as 40 percent (or 83 million Nigerians) are currently living in poverty, a figure that is projected to increase to 90 million (or 45 percent) by year 2022.
“If these are not contained, our population will be projected to hit the 400 million mark by 2050, according to Rotary Action Group for Reproductive Maternal and Child Health (RMCH),” the D-G said.
The theme of the celebration was ‘Changing the Poverty Narrative Through Skills: The Role of ITF and the Imperative for Installation Synergy.’
Sir Ari noted that, he would like to see an ITF that grows not just into an household name where every young Nigerian would see as a pride of place to belong to in terms of actualizing his or her career prospects, and also would like to see an ITF that will lubricate the Industrial Hub of the country by ensuring that industries in the country operate optimally.
Speaking during the celebration, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State said, “Since the ITF’s establishment, in 1971, despite new technologies, different government policies and shifting economic conditions that have transformed commerce and industry, the ITF has responded and adapted appropriately to meet the needs of the economy and provide the needed workforce for industries in the country.
“Its achievements have been visible in its products and the trainees it has graduated and pushed into the nation’s economy. Only recently, we witnessed the presentation of a smart-phone produced by the ITF, which was presented to Mr. President. Such success stories are what have made ITF a leading public organization in Nigeria and earned it several awards locally and internationally.
“As the host State of the ITF’s Headquarters, Plateau State has benefited from the programmes and activities of the Fund, especially since the assumption to office of one of our illustrious sons and my brother, Sir, Joseph N. Ari, KSM. Under his leadership, millions of Nigerians, including Plateau indigenes have benefited from several skills acquisition programmes of the ITF.
“This is no doubt in tandem with the policy direction of our Rescue Administration, which places premium on human capital development. Beyond the empowerment of our youths with skills and start-up packs, the ITF has contributed in no small measure towards the upliftment of the living conditions of its immediate communities and the educational sector in the State through its Corporate Social Responsibility,” Lalong noted.
He added that, “As Government and people of Plateau State, we sincerely appreciate the tremendous contributions of the ITF to the development of our dear State, and pledge the continuous collaboration and support of the State Government to all initiatives of the ITF and the Federal Government.
“That explains why my administration has continued to invest in the training and empowerment of our citizens within the realm of Sustainable Economic Rebirth, which we have been carrying out in the last six years, through the PLASMIDA and other agencies of Government. We have ensured that our youths acquire necessary skills and access empowerment support that will turn them from being job-seekers to job-creators,” he disclosed.
The governor also stated that, he is proud to say that so far, they have achieved a lot in this direction where more and more entrepreneurs are establishing small businesses and growing steadily, adding thus: “This has made us to increase our partnership with the Federal Government and other Development Partners in helping them to access funding, mentorship and further training to consolidate and expand. Our Ease of Doing Business ranking is also growing.
“Government has also taken further steps in ensuring that skill development is entrenched within our educational system through Technical and Vocational Education. Under our Legacy Projects – commonly referred to as the ‘Lalong Legacy Projects,’ – these have commenced the construction of two additional Technical Schools in Shendam and Pankshin to enable our children get education that is tailored to solving problems within their immediate vicinity and beyond,” the governor stressed.
While assuring all Nigerians and the international community that his administration shall continue to do its best in cultivating and sustaining peace and security in the State to facilitate investment and development, the governor noted that, “The recent ugly events of the past should not cast a shadow on the great achievements we have recorded in maintaining peace in the last six years. We need to speak good about our State always.
“ITF has remained a great ambassador in this regard, as it has continued to host meetings and trainings in the State as well as maintaining its presence,” he said, and reassured Nigerians that the State is safe for business and, that, government will continue to reciprocate by providing security for the staff and facilities of the organization at all times.