A conference of Civil Society Groups, known as Coalition for Good Governance and Rule of Law, on Tuesday, raised the alarm over alleged plans by the Muslims Rights Concern (MURIC), to turn the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) into a religious organization.
Ishaq Akintola, the leader of MURIC, had reportedly accused the Director-General of ITF, Sir Joseph Ari of recruiting only Christians into the agency, since his assumption of office.
MURIC was reported as saying, out of 487 staff employed at the ITF in 2019, only 90 were Muslims and that this was just 18.48 per cent, while Christians were 81.52 per cent.
But at a Press Conference in Abuja on Tuesday, the Leader of the Coalition, Comrade Isaac Ikpa, said the allegation of nepotism in the ITF was an attempt by MURIC to cause unnecessary distraction in the operations of the agency in an attempt to malign the character of the leadership.
He said Sir Ari was reputed to have entrenched a regime of transparency and accountability in the operations of the ITF since he assumed office.
“The Coalition for Good Governance and Rule in its numerous engagements with Ministries, Departments, and Agencies in the country indeed finds it worrisome that MURIC would elect to turn the truth on its head in a most brazen and despicable manner.
“We are constrained to add our voice to this narrative for the fact that the allegations are unsubstantiated. The allegations are also lacking in merit because it is obvious from all indications that MURIC relied on hearsays before making its position known in the public space”, the Coalition said.
The group also described as “uncharitable”, the allegations by MURIC, saying, it was an indication that the leadership of MURIC was not in tune with reality and the operational structure of the ITF that emphasizes meritocracy due to the sensitivity of its operations.
“It is our considered view that MURIC mistook the ITF for a religious organization where religious considerations should be the yardstick for employment as against experience, qualifications, and suitability for the job” the group added.
The Coalition stressed that it had on several occasions, continuously tasked agencies of government on good governance and the rule of law, “and it is instructive to state that the ITF remains one of the agencies of government that has displayed a high level of compliance to the extant laws guiding its operations, including recruitment at all cadres”.
The group said the ITF Board was known to have carried out its employment in line with the federal character principle and there was no iota of favouritism or nepotism as being speculated.
“We believe that MURIC was misled into its hasty conclusion without carrying out a detailed investigation. We, therefore, implore a respected organization like MURIC to do some research before making public statements on petitions before it and will encourage MURIC to continue to carry out its roles as a respected civil society organization, or at the risk of been labelled as a tool for inciting religious tension in the country” Ikpa added.