Bayelsa, group disagree over alleged diversion of ITF stipends
The Bayelsa State government and a Niger Delta group, Patriotic Citizen of Nigeria (PACON) are at loggerhead over a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on alleged diversion of money meant for participants of a skill acquisition training in the state.
While the state government through the Commissioner for Youths and Development, Collins Corcodia, described the petition as “frivolous” and “reckless,” the group urged the EFCC to closely monitor the funds due to the state to ensure it is expended judiciously.
The state government explained that the training, which is being organised in conjunction with the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) did not make provision for monetary gain at the end of the programme.
According to him: “The ITF pleaded with the state government to provide starter packs, but we have stopped that policy. We observed that many beneficiaries sell their starter packs for cash. Rather, we decided to allow them easy access to bank loans.”
The group in the petition signed by its convener, Aluzu Ebikebuna and co-convener, Debekeme Powedei claimed they were aware the ITF would provide funds for participants as take-off grants to start their own business upon completion of the programme.
“Our fear followed a statement by the Commissioner for Youths and Development that participants should not expect any take-off grant at the end of the programme.“We wish to ask why the programme which was supposed to start in September 2016 was deliberately delayed till March 2017? From our findings, we discovered that the previous participants were given money as low as N15,000 as take-off grant by the Ministry of Youths and Development.
“We have already dispatched letters to ITF to confirm the amount allocated to Bayelsa for both the first and second batch of the training and we expect a reply soon. We are calling on the EFCC to closely monitor the funds due to Bayelsa,” the group stated.
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