Post COVID-19: Repositioning ITF for enhanced industrialisation


The Industrial Training Fund Act (ITFA) came into existence on the 8th of October 8, 1971 to establish a fund that would cater for the promotion of and encouragement of skills acquisition in Nigeria with a view to having enough indigenous trained manpower to meet the needs of industries for the growth of the economy while providing jobs and creating wealth.

This idea brought about the Industrial Training Fund (ITF).

There cannot be any meaningful development in a country where the real sector lack human and natural resources to thrive.

The ITF is not, in any way, responsible for industries’ natural resources but its main concern is for the availability of the manpower that would turn the natural resources into finished products for the use of the people and sustainability of the industrial sector.

Despite glaring fact that Nigeria’s share of unemployment is on the high side, the reality of government agencies and individuals importing artisans from other African countries to do menial jobs in most big cities in the country is not deniable.  The excuse has always been that Nigerian artisans cannot deliver on quality jobs required.

So it is common place to see a Togolese carpenter, a Ghanaian bricklayer or a Zimbabwean plumber at construction sites across the country.

The resultant effects are more jobless youths roaming the streets and capital flight to other countries and again like in some other sectors of the economy, Nigeria bears the brunt and is left in the cold.

With the realization of this dangerous trend, the 12th Director-General of the ITF, Director-General/Chief Executive Sir Joseph N. Ari,   reiterated the change agenda’s resolve for economic diversification.

He also stressed the need for training and retraining to create job, wealth and self reliance.

Upon assumption of office four years ago set as parts of the goals to be achieved in her four year in office a plan for the training of more than two million Nigerian youths yearly in order for industries in the country to have employable artisans and technicians without the country having to bring foreigners to do the same jobs Nigerians are able to do.

No wonder, stakeholders, namely, ABU Zaria, KASU, NBTE,  and PAN, etc,  urged the Federal Government to make it mandatory for all MDAs, organizations  both public and private to  key-into ITF’s mandate for training and retraining of workforce in Nigeria as it is done in Germany, Singapore, Sao Paolo-Brazil, and Japan, etc.

No wonder, Ari’s re-appointment as the Director-General was greeted with accolades beyond the confines of its headquarters in Jos as many described it ‘as the best thing to have happened to the Fund for nearly 47 years of its existence. Ari has no doubt hit the ground running. Ari, who familiar with the operations of ITF, has a track record of achievements in all positions he had held previously.  His working career spans over two decades.

Ari started his career at the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Lagos, as newscaster and later Nigerian Television Authority as news editor/caster. He was public relations manager, North at the National Insurance Corporation of Nigeria (NICON).

He was also director press and public affairs to two governors of Plateau State before his appointment as sole administrator and later general manager, Plateau Publishing Company (PPC), Jos.

He was re-assigned to Plateau Radio Television Corporation (PRTVC) as general manager. Owing to his exemplary performance, Sir Ari was appointed permanent secretary, Government House Administration; a position he held until his appointment by the Federal Government as deputy director and head of public relations and publicity unit (now public affairs) of Industrial Training Fund.

As unit head, he initiated a successful rebranding programme that not only dragged an organisation out of murkiness to national consciousness, but also restored the confidence of stakeholders and paved the way for the successful implementation of ITF 2011 Act.

When he was deployed to other positions such as director of administration and human resource management; corporate planning; and business training and development departments as well as chairman of the fund’s training and research committee, he either initiated or was instrumental to the implementation of important policy documents. They include 4-year road map, 10-year strategic plan, amendment of ITF Act and the restructuring of ITF from the 10-department and units structure to 14, amongst numerous initiatives and policies that were targeted at actualising the fund’s mandate. These feats may have influenced his appointment as director-general of the organization by Mr. President four years ago and his reappointment.

Feelers from the fund suggest that his deep insider knowledge of ITF and extensive experience have already come to play.

Barely few months as DG, Ari took steps that are suggestive that ITF would prosper under his leadership. Beyond making quick efforts to restore harmony within ranks of the fund’s stakeholders, Ari unveiled a plan, which is intended to radically reposition and refocus the organization to more effectively deliver on its mandate and positively impact all segments of our national economy. The plan, which is perhaps the fund’s most ambitious and comprehensive since establishment, outlines a number of quick wins, medium and long term goals with strategies and firm timelines for their achievement.

In the area of agriculture, which is a major preoccupation of most Nigerians and a key component of the economic diversification agenda of the Muhammadu Buhari government, ITF intends to develop the capacity of Nigerian farmers along the agricultural value chain. Areas targeted include fish farming, poultry production, crop production, agric-mechanization, agro-business and post-harvest management, manure production, technology farm management, and water resource management, etc.

Human Rights Social Media  Commentator and Good Governance Advocate  


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