ITF staff demands DG’s removal, embarks on warning strike
By; Buhari B. Bello, Jos.
The staff of industrial training fund (ITF) headquarter in Jos has embarked on a three day warning strike locking the main entrance of the fund demanding for the immediate resignation of the Director General, MRS. Juliet Chukkas.
The union under the central working committee of the senior staff association comprising of the amalgamated union of public civil servant, Technical and Recreational Service Employees (AUPCTRE) mobilized the staff on the early hour of Monday and barricaded the entrance headquarters.
Addressing the striking workers, Comrade Kayode S. Alakija, President of the Union observed that their decision to embark on the three day warning strike became necessary in view of the inability of the Director General and the management to respond to the demands of the union on issues bothering on staff welfare, financial impropriety and mismanagement of Funds.
According to the union, “we have observed with serious concern the deplorable state of the fund under the leadership of the present Director General and accuse her of high handedness in handling the affairs of the organization noting that for over forty years of the existence of the fund, things has never been cluelessly managed as now”.
The staff pointed out that the ITF has drifted from its mandate and playing to the gallery saying that the fund is no longer serving it clients as expected since the assumption of office of the Director General.
They pointed out that the staff has lost every sense of belonging while the Director General has turned the organization into her private concern whereby she run the organization as a family business.
“Activities of various department/units has been paralyzed while money is been spent on frivolities. Financial impropriety and mismanagement of the fund is now the order of the day”. According to the union “The Director General is quick to accuse the staff of the fund of corruption” pointing out that her claim of inheriting a corrupt system is mind bugling as it was under her tenure that things have gone bad in the fund.
Among the issues raised by the union include non remittance of all deduction from salary from June to Date, non remittance of training contribution, reimbursement claims, lack of internal facilities and alleged renovation of ITF complex awarded to Minds and Lines limited at the whooping sum of 248,622,900.00, an amount they believed is outrageous.
Other issues are non approval of core activities of the various department, dissolution of the staff school’s board, construction of 150 meters concrete access linking headquarters annex to estate division to BEST TRUNKY PROJECTS LIMITED at the sum of 19,559,400.00, saying the job executed is not in anyway commensurate with the amount expended.
The Director General was also accused of violating the federal government directive on restriction on foreign training and international travel by public servant via the circular dated 22nd January 2015.
They also allege that the Director General and her kitchen cabinet jettison the said circular and used public fund to travel at will. “As at date, a total of 20,399,198.00 has so far been paid to the Director General for seven different trips out of which she only attended two and transfer of 1.2 Billion Naira to Neca . We are aware of the transfer of the total sum of 1.2Billion to Nigerian Employers Consultative Association account all in the name of purported collaboration in two installment of 500Million in March 2015 and 730Million in may 2015.”
Other contending issues includes the renovation of the Director General residence in Jos where her predecessors used as a resident and the same building was awarded to Mines and Lines Limited at the sum of 14,991,609,92 in spite of the DG’s resolve not to stay in the building. “As if this is not enough, the Director General also incurred over 10 million naira hotel bills for the few times she had visited Jos while she was also paid a bulk rent of N3,851,734.00 in January, 2015. This is an abuse of office and a violation of the probation of the remuneration of political office order as stipulated by remuneration act.”
The aggrieved workers are also complaining over the purchase of 1.23 billion naira Property in Oba Akran, Lagos when the market value of the same building is put at 400Million by reputable estate valuers.
The approval to purchase this property according to the union, was hurriedly put together and back dated to 28 May 2015, a day to the official handing over to the present Government.
According to the union, the same approval was stamped and received in ITF office on 1st July 2015 while the Director General and management went ahead to make payment for the property in August 2015, pointing out that ordinarily a contract that is above a billion naira should go to the federal executive council for approval “but for reasons best known to the Director General and management, the value of the property was splitted by removing VAT and withholding Tax to reduce the sum of N995, 300, 00, 3 to enable it to pass through the ministerial Tender Board .”
Engagement of Consultant to carry out core activities of the fund, absence of the Director General from the Headquarters, purchase of operational vehicles, employment of three special assistant, proposed purchase of family land in Umunede for the construction of skill training center and extension of kitchen in MSTC Abuja as well as proposed purchase of property in Kano Office in exchange for another building belonging to one of her cronies are among the issues the union are accusing the Director General.
The unions are therefore demanding that all deduction of salary from July to date should be paid to all the designated accounts with immediate effect, outstanding NHIS subscription due to the HMO should be paid within seven days and internet facilities should be restored to all arms of the fund within seven days.
Besides they also want Mind and Lines Limited to move to the site and commence renovation of the headquarter complex within seven days.
Speaking on behalf of the management, the Public Relation Manager of the fund Mrs. Ifeaoma Ehezike explained that all their grievances are been addressed by the management and called on the workers to exercise restrain while pushing their demand.
She said the management of the fund is not relenting in addressing the welfare issues of the staffs even as she said some of the issues raised by the union are not true.