By Mohammed Dauda Eibo-Adanu
The Industrial Training Fund (ITF) plays a pivotal role in human capital development, which is the bedrock for wealth and job creation globally. Thus, on April 26, 2017 ITF flagged-off the 2017 National Industrial Skills Development Programme (NISDP), in Dutse Jigawa State capital. On the occasion, ITF Director-General/Chief Executive, Sir Joseph N. Ari, again demonstrated his agency’s commitment to rekindle the hope of the unemployed youths in Nigeria. Represented by Director Procurement/Zonal Director, ITF North-west Zone, Mal. Ahmad El-Kyari, Ari said:
“It is with great delight and deep sense of honour that I welcome you to the official flag-off ceremony of the 2017 National Industrial Skills Development Programme, which commenced across 18 states of the federation on March 1. I am especially pleased to welcome the Executive Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Badaru Abubakar, represented by his Deputy, Barr. Ibrahim Hassan Hadejia, and other government functionaries”.
The DG said what is perhaps most worrisome is the fact that despite the number of Nigerians without work, several surveys, including those conducted by the ITF, have revealed that vacancies exist in some sectors of the economy that are currently being filled by persons other than Nigerians because of the lack of requisite technical skills by our people.
Ari said to arrest this problem which portends not only a clear and present danger, but also a threat to attainment of key government policies, ITF conceived NISDP.
This is a programme aimed at instilling skills in our teeming population, particularly our young men and women, so as to escalate economic recovery and growth. Since inauguration, the programme has trained 84,100 Nigerians in over 30 trades and crafts. Most of the beneficiaries of the programme are today gainfully employed or very successful entrepreneurs. This phase of the programme will train 9,000 Nigerians.
In Jigawa State, the programme will equip 500 youths aged between 18 and 35 years, with skills. It is noteworthy that the selected trades and craft were chosen based on their projected skills value addition to the beneficiaries and their potentialities to provide sustainable means of livelihood for the trainee on graduation.
So far the programme has achieved almost all its objectives. According to results of tracking system that monitors the development of graduands of the programme; up to 80 percent of the beneficiaries have sustainable livelihoods either as paid workers, or as entrepreneurs, who are employing others. Despite the successes recorded, the DG revealed that plans are underway to expand the programme so that more Nigerians will benefit. For instance, in future, several streams will be run within a phase, while it will roll out in all the states at the same time. This is the way to go if the country is to creates jobs and diversify the economy as envisioned by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration
It is also with a view to tackling the intractable unemployment that ITF, under the leadership of Joseph Ari, unveiled ITF Reviewed Vision: Strategies for the Actualization of the Four-Year plan that is compartmentalized in quick wins, medium and long term goals. The overriding objectives of the plan is to implement strategies directly targeted at creating jobs, reducing poverty and placing the nation on a sound path of economic recovery and growth. It goes without saying that ITF cannot do these all by itself. It is in this vein that ITF appeals to the Jigawa State government and other well-meaning Nigerians to support these trainees with starter packs.
Sir Ari’s body language shows that Nigeria is in a hurry to join the industrialized nations. The DG’s speech during the 2016 annual performance review and merit award ceremony on March 30, 2017 at the ITF headquarters in Jos is quite instructive.
He said the ITF, like other organizations, keyed into merit awards as an avenue to render accounts of its achievements and motivate the workforce and stakeholders, noting 2016 was like no other in the history of ITF. Certain prevailing circumstances, beginning from the penultimate year, had ensured that the fund could barely meet its statutory obligations leading to successive leadership changes before the emergence of the incumbent management on September 29, 2016.
This, coupled with the global economic recession that manifested in job losses, mass unemployment, the collapse of the money market and declining revenue, demanded that the incumbent DG should hit the ground running. This was to urgently salvage the fund and pull it back from the brink while also instilling skills in Nigerians to ensure accelerated economic recovery and drive the economic diversification agenda and other policies of the Buhari administration.
“As insurmountable as it first appeared, I am proud to say that barely six months after assumption, these key objectives have either been realized, or on course to being achieved. But how did we do this? My answer will be that rather than view the aforementioned as challenges, they were perceived as opportunities to be exploited by the ITF to the advantage of Nigerians. After all, it is said that necessity is the mother of invention. With this spirit, barely one month in office, management unveiled a ‘home made’ plan that was wholly generated internally by staff”, he said.
Since assuming office, Ari has ensured the training of many unemployed youths who have graduated from various ITF’s skills acquisition centres. They include tailoring and fashion designing, carpentry and joinery, interior decoration and bag making. This attracted encomiums on the venerated and impeccable DG and his entire members of staff for giving them a lifeline. The recently graduated trainees in Kaduna said it all: Mr. Ari’s move to place Nigeria among industrialized nations is the right step in the right direction.