The Industrial Training Fund (ITF) has received accolades from the federal government which described the Fund as a key agency involved in the drive against poverty and unemployment in Nigeria.
Speaking on the occasion of ITF Golden Jubilee, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Yalwaji Katagum, who gave the accolades at ITF Golden Jubilee, described it as one of the key agencies of government that has accounted for the numerous successes and achievements that the ministry has recorded over the years.
Katagum, who was represented by her Special Assistant, Mr. Ahmed Maikurudi, said that “It is in appreciation of its vital role that in 2018, the ITF was named as Star Partner for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Development in Nigeria and again recognised in 2019 with the Award of Excellence as Outstanding MSMEs Clinic Partner.
“The ITF was also included as a member of the federal government’s Steering Committee to drive the implementation of the various support schemes for MSMEs in the country as part of the National response to COVID-19, an initiative, which has brought to the doorsteps of Nigerians five stimulus programmes under the Survival Fund.
“Similarly, the ITF was among the few agencies that were requested by the federal government to forward submissions on lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years. If its proposal, which is currently receiving the attention of the committee, is assented to, the ITF will train over seven million Nigerians in the Agriculture, Construction and Facility Maintenance, Information and Communication Technology, Manufacturing and Services sectors.
“In view of these milestones, the ITF truly deserves to be celebrated as it marks its 50th anniversary. It is on this note that I wish to join the rest of the nation to especially commend the Governing Council, the Director-General/Chief Executive of the ITF, Sir Joseph N. Ari, the Management and entire staff of the Industrial Training Fund for their dedication, hard work and commitment that have ensured that the ITF has not only survived all these years, but is contributing significantly to the growth and development of our dear country, Nigeria,” the minister said.
The minister also commended the leadership of the ITF for the giant strides it has recorded especially under the leadership of Ari, “who has transformed and refocused the organisation to what it is today, leading to the empowerment of thousands of Nigerian youths with cutting edge skills for entrepreneurship and employability in line with President Buhari’s policy on poverty eradication and job and wealth creation.”
Ari, who was elated, however described the growing rate of unemployment and poverty in Nigeria as worrisome, noting that a jump in unemployment rate from 27.1 per cent in Q2 of the year 2020 to 33.3 per cent in Q4 of the year 2020, and a marginal rise in the population of Nigerians living below poverty line to 83 million were unacceptable.
The director general assured that special attention would be paid to developing relevant skills along the agricultural value chain in view of its great potential to create employment and reduce poverty.
“To this end, the Fund will develop demonstration farms across the country to train farmers and extension workers. The farms, which will be modelled after our demonstration farm in Ofadaland, Ogun State, will give vent to the federal government’s efforts to diversify the economy, and boost agricultural yield across the country.
“The problem of unemployment remains as intractable as ever despite the multifaceted efforts of government. Recent surveys including one conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) indicates that rather than fall, the number of Nigerians that are unemployed, particularly the youth, has continued to soar.”
He said that the grim scenario informed the choice of the theme: ‘Changing the Poverty Narrative Through Skills: The Role of the ITF and the Imperative for Institutional Synergy relevant and germane’, attributing the successes recorded by the Fund to commitment, resilience and dedication, but added that a quick scan of the national economy will reveal that despite the many successes there are still huge challenges ahead in the next phase of the institution.
The guest speaker, Mr. Ezekiel Gomos, emphasised on synergy among the various institutions that are charged with a similar mandate of providing employment and alleviating poverty.
Other dignitaries at the event include, Governor of Plateau State, Mr. Simon Lalong; two former DGs of ITF, Professor Olu Akerejola and Professor Longmas Wapmuk. They all took turns to laud ITF over its achievements over the years.