[Interview]–The Executive Secretary of TETFund, Dr Abdullahi Bichi Baffa has revealed that not less than 44 billion naira was spent on academic staff training in the nation’s tertiary institutions.
Similarly, Baffa lamented about the corruption in tertiary institution and how managements of those institutions have been abusing the fund which led President Muhammadu Buhari administration in February to direct that Tertiary Education Trust Fund’s special intervention funds given to tertiary institutions across the country be excluded in the 2017 budget.
He also stated in an interview with Vanguard that special allocations for projects that did not commence prior to August 2016 from the date of his appointment as TETFund boss will be cancelled.
Heaping the blames on corruption, he disclosed that over N200bn was recklessly disbursed while the normal intervention that was to be given to all institutions got N50 billion. He said the TETfund was able to recover N74 billion from the N200 billion disbursed as special intervention fund.
While stakeholders applauded the moves to curb corruption and recover looted fund, they argued that it was not enough to exclude funding of tertiary institutions in the 2017 budget because of few who are possibly corrupt in the system.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson for TETfund, Mr. Erasmus Alaneme while speaking with Vanguard explained the difference between the special intervention fund and the intervention fund.
According to him, while the Executive Secretary of TETfund, Dr. Abdullahi Bichi Baffa suspended the special intervention fund, the normal fund for tertiary institutions remains intact.
He stated, “Special Intervention Fund is the intervention done at the discretion of board of trustees and not our normal work.
“For example, the Board can decide that UNILAG needs this or that intervention. That is what we want to put on hold and be able to network the normal intervention.
“The normal interventions are still on. Special intervention is such that when we get a demand that a school needs a building, TETfund comes to their aid.
“If you recall, in June, the Executive Secretary said they have suspended all special projects because due process was not followed. When we have a new board, we will then know what to do about special intervention fund. Right now, it is the normal intervention fund, which is our annual allocation that is given to tertiary institutions and each university, both federal and state gets over one billion naira as normal intervention for a year.
“Also, about N44bn is given for academic staff training.” In the breakdown of the N44billion, he said the academic staff training and development is allocated N300m for universities, polytechnics colleges of education got N200m as against N100m, N70m and N60m respectively, in 2015,” he added.
In a separate interview, the Director, Distance Learning Centre, University of Ibadan, Professor Oyesoji Aremu, has listed funding as causative agent to quality of education, adding that if caution was not taken, it will make access to education practically impossible for a great number of candidates.
He said, “Generally and especially in Nigeria, the major challenge confronting tertiary education is funding. This has not only eroded the quality, it has also made access to education practically impossible for a great population of candidates.
“With increasing number of universities in Nigeria, the problem of access has not been addressed; the reason being that tertiary education is beyond the reach of an average candidate given the indices of poverty, unemployment and under- employment.
“That expressed, it shows that governments (especially federal and state) remain the best agencies of education funding. The take, therefore, is for the government to reappraise its funding policy to make it more impactful and accessible.
“The policy of Education Tax should again be re-appraised with a view to making industries and organisations contribute adequately to funding of higher education in Nigeria. Also, higher education should attract appropriate budgetary allocation as is obtainable in other climes,” he appealed.Please Follow Us @ThePageNg