… Demand reconstitution of SEC board
From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja
The House of Representatives Committee on Industry has commenced investigation into the alleged mismanagement of N8.6 billion Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) fund by the Industrial Training Fund (ITF).
The House had on May 10, this year, adopted a motion seeking an investigation into allegations of mismanagement of funds meant for SIWES from 2010 to 2017.
But in his presentation at an investigative hearing by the committee held yesterday, Director General of ITF, Joseph Ari, described as untrue, allegation that the process of disbursing funds to students was not transparent.
Rather, he said due to increased participation of students in recent years, ITF has had to contend with funding shortfalls.
He further explained that the variance between amount released and amount paid is caused by irregularities in institutions’ academic calender, leading to many students not being able to go on attachment at the right time.
The DG further disclosed that the level of students’ enrolment has increased from 784 at inception of the scheme to 3.5 million in 2017.
“Over the years, the scheme has attracted nationwide acceptance with universities, polytechnics and colleges of education clamouring to get their institutions’ courses approved for the scheme.
“Consequently, participation in the scheme has risen astronomically while funding has not kept pace with this growth.
“The scheme, which commenced with 11 higher institutions in 1974 has increased to 311 in 2017. This is made up of 121 universities, 115 polytechnics and monotechnics and 75 colleges of education,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the House has called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to constitute a board for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as soon as possible.
This was as it also called for the appointment of Executive Commissioners to fill three vacant positions in the Commission.
Members decried the absence of a board and the failure to fill the vacancies, saying, the current situation has slowed down the general operations and hindered the agency’s monitoring duties as regulator of the capital market.
“The non-constitution of the board for two years now is posing both regulatory and reputational challenges to SEC, creating delays in approvals from the supervising ministry of Finance, causing non-formalisation of broad economic, financial, operational and administrative guidelines and targets of the commission.
“The absence of Executive Commissioners, who are saddled with responsibilities to assist the Director-General in the day to day management and administration of the commission has increased the workload of the Director-General and this has slowed down certain operations which require promptness”, Yusuf said.
The motion was unanimously adopted by members when it was put to a voice vote by the Speaker Yakubu Dogara.