ITF workers on strike over alleged financial impropriety

Jos  –  Workers of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), , on Monday began a three-day warning strike, over alleged financial mismanagement by the management of the fund.
The workers, under the aegis of the Senior Staff Association of Communications, Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations and Civil Service, as well as the various unions in the ITF, also accused the management of poor welfare issues.
Mr Kayode Alakija, President,Senior Staff Association of Communications, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Jos, alleged that ITF’s Director General (DG), Mrs Juliet Chukka-Onaeko, had turned the organisation “into a private business’’.
“The ITF is being run as a family business; activities of its various departments and units have been paralysed, while monies are being spent on frivolities with misappropriation of fund now a common place.
He alleged that the DG had failed to remit pension deductions from salaries, since June 2015, and had also failed to pay monies meant for trainers, a situation that had affected the sole mandate of the ITF.
“The DG has also failed to remit outstanding balance owed the Health Management Organisation (HMO),which has led to the withdrawal of their services and caused untold hardship on workers,” he said.
According to him, the renovation of the ITF headquarters, was awarded at the sum of N248.6 million, with only 15 per cent of the contract value already paid, while work was yet to begin.
The workers also alleged that the DG had dissolved the board of the ITF Staff school and replaced it with a sole administrator.
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“That development is strange; it is alien to management structure of the school.
“The DG has also approved overseas training and tours for herself and members of her kitchen cabinet, even after the Federal Government issued a directive restricting that.’’
The spokesman also accused the DG of extra budgetary spending, employment of three Special Assistants, and described such step as unnecessary.
He also accused the DG of absenting herself from the headquarters, stressing that she had always engaged consultants to carry out the core activities of the fund.
Contacted, Mrs. Ifeoma Ihezua, Director, Public Relations of the ITF, expressed surprise at the allegations, saying that the DG had always created a platform where workers could air their views and observations.
“They say she is high handed; but no one has told her the issues, in spite of her open policy,’’ she said.
She said that all salaries had been paid, and blamed delays in other payments on the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy by the Federal Government.
“The workers have also accused us of not remitting some monies, but as I speak, every remittance has been remitted,’’ she said.
On the DG’s absence from the ITF headquarters in Jos, Ihezua said that most of the administrative activities were always in Abuja, hence the need for the DG to always be there.
She expressed management’s readiness to dialogue with the workers, and advised them against taking law into their hands by locking the gates of the offices and chasing away those willing to work.
“Management is on top of the situation; we want peace to reign and we are prepared to listen to the demands of the workers,’’ she said. (NAN)

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