Dr Joseph Ari, the Director General of the Industrial training fund (ITF), says his agency disbursed about N13.4 billion to participants at the Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) from 2010 to date.
Ari spoke while testifying before the Mr Abubakar Moriki-led House of Representatives committee on Industry probing allegations of mismanagement of SIWES funds by the ITF over the years.
He stated that the amount was disbursed to 1,026,761 students of tertiary institutions as students and supervisory allowances during the period in view.
He added that of the N12.2 billion appropriated for the scheme, about N9.6 billion was released to ITF within the period under review.
He disclosed that the shortfall of monies released was in the range of N1.6 billion to N2.7 billion within the period, adding that the number of students’ enrolment has increased from 784 from 11 higher institutions at inception in 1974 to 3,560,908 from 311 higher institutions in 2017.
He also denied allegations that funds meant for the scheme was mismanaged over the years.
According to him, “the allegation that the scheme had been mismanaged over the years is incorrect. The ITF has a clear accounting system and has successfully managed the scheme over the years linking institutions and students with industries.
“People make allegations that may be based on wrong assumptions that usually require clarification. It is pertinent that an opportunity be given for clarification and education of everyone on how the scheme operates;who is eligible for payment and those not eligible for payment, who assume that payment is for all courses and for all Nigerian students.”
Insisting that the SIWES scheme was meant for engineering, technology and technical related courses, he identified irregularities in academic calendar, delay in payment due to wrong account details from institutions and students and verification of log books are among the factors responsible for the delay in payment to beneficiaries as at when due by ITF.
Mrs Margaret Oyedele ,the Deputy Director academic planning of the national university commission (NUC), who dissociated her commission from issues relating to the management of SIWES funds advocated the need for improved funding of the scheme.
She also stressed the need for a joint monitoring team comprising ITF, NUC, the National Board For Technical Education (NBTE) and representatives of the polytechnic, Monotechnics and universities to ensure effective implementation of the scheme