FG disburses N208b to varsities, others

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The Federal Government has allocated N208 billion for 2019 annual direct disbursements to public universities, polytechnics and colleges of education, through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund.

Executive Secretary of TETFund, Prof Suleiman Bogoro, disclosed this at an annual meeting with heads of beneficiary institutions in Abuja.

Bogoro said N826,684,392 million was allocated to each public university, while each polytechnic was allocated N566,701,842 and each public college of education was voted N542,226,346.

The TETFund boss also announced a high impact intervention of the fund to 18 public tertiary institutions in the six geopolitical zones, comprising 6 universities, 6 polytechnics and 6 colleges of education.

He said each of the six universities would have N3 billion in high impact intervention, while selected polytechnics and colleges of education would get N1 billion each.

According to him, between January and June 2019, the fund had disbursed N19.7 billion to beneficiary institutions.

While explaining government’s focus on intervening in only public tertiary institutions, he said 94 per cent of the total university population in the country was in public universities which explains why government insisted that the money should be applied only to public universities.

He however expressed worry over the increase in the number of state-owned institutions just for the purpose of enrolling them to benefit from TETFund, stating that a decision would soon be taken by the fund’s board of trustees to address the issue and ensure that the interventions do not whittle down.

On the issue of stranded Nigerian scholars on TETFund sponsorship to institutions abroad, he said the scandal which has caused a lot of embarrassment to the country was being addressed and further steps taken to forestall any future lapses in the scheme.

Bogoro disclosed that TETFund has commenced pro rata payments to about 400 scholars since it started monitoring the development three months ago.

He further frowned at the sluggish execution of projects by some institutions and also expressed worry over the quality of projects implementation, stating that TETFund does not allow more than four years of accumulation of projects.

He said five erring institutions were being investigated over delay in project execution, warning that appropriate sanctions would be meted out when the investigations are concluded, while also appealing to the board of trustees to allow an independent monitoring and evaluation of the projects as the high number of defaulters was unacceptable.

Speaking on the corruption in some institutions, he said the fund would soon drag some desk officers to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over demands that they were making from some scholars while sitting on their funds.

While commending the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, for ensuring that the 2 per cent education tax was collected and remitted to the fund through the Central Bank, despite dwindling oil prices, he said TETFund has always ensured that the funds were judiciously applied.

Speaking on research, Bogoro warned that if Nigeria does not deepen research, it would be pretending it can compete with the rest of the world, adding that the fund would focus on the content component of its intervention which is research and development.

He further noted that research and development was the only way the country can overcome its economic and technological challenges.

Earlier, the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, NUC, and Acting Chairman, Board of Trustees of TETFund, Prof Abubakar Rasheed, said TETFund was emerging as one of the most improved government agency in the country.

Rahseed urged beneficiary institutions to promptly access their 2019 allocations as there was no time on their side.

He however noted the many challenges facing TETFund, one of which is the rising number of beneficiary institutions, adding that Nigeria needs more institutions to provide access to its population but the growing number of institutions were reducing the volume of intervention by the fund.

The NUC boss said in 2019, the number of beneficiary institutions was higher than other years because the increase in the number of tertiary institutions, calling on government top protect TETFund in order not to whittle down its interventions.

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