With his renewed drive to improve on the various intervention projects of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) across public higher educational institutions in the country, the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, appears to be leaving no stone unturned in repositioning the agency for maximum impact writes MALACHY UZENDU and FELIX KHANOBA.
It is no longer novel that first time visitors to some tertiary institutions in the country have often mistaken such institutions as ‘University of TETFund’. This is not unconnected with the several TETFund infrastructural projects that are ever visible in the length and breadth of these schools. Prior to this development, our universities were a sham, bereft of all the razzmattaz, fame and awe that were hitherto hallmark of institutions of such stature.
TETFund as a key intervention institution set up to primarily shore up the infrastructure and teaching facilities, have arguably been playing this role creditably. Nonetheless, the return of Prof. Suleiman Bogoro as the Executive Secretary of TETFund on January 2019 after an impactful stint in the same position between 2014 and 2016, is once again reshaping the agency for even better performance in its several intervention in public universities, polytechnics and colleges of education.
Though the number of beneficiaries of TETFund insterventions have continued to witness a quantum leap even with limited financial resources, Prof. Bogoro within the few months he took over this saddle has improved on the laudable programmes set by his predecessors and rolled out further far reaching operational reforms for improved service delivery, and equally stepped up measures to immediately fix issues that were steadily negatively dragging the reputable image of the oragnisation on a downward slide.
Speaking at an annual meeting between TETFund and heads of beneficiary tertiary institutions in the country in Abuja recently, Prof. Bogoro explained that the agency had begun to clear outstanding stipend owed to hitherto stranded academics who were sent abroad for studies, pointing out that no less than 400 of such scholars had been paid their entitlements since the exercise commenced about three months ago.
Bogoro also at the meeting informed that N208 billion had been disbursed to all the beneficiary institutions in the country as TETFund’s 2019 Direct Intervention, with each of the universities getting as much as N826.6million; the polytechnics, N566.7million while each of the colleges of education received N542.2million.
Bogoro added that TETFund had equally set aside additional N30 billion under its High Impact Intervention Scheme for 2019, which will see to one university, polytechnic and college of education in each of the six geo-political zones as beneficiary, adding that the agency had also disbursed N19.9 billion for physical infrastructural development and library upgrade interventions within the last six months.
Some of the reforms kicked off by the Bauchi State-born professor have continued to resonate positively, yielding the desired results in the delivery of TETFund mandate. They include the stimulation of competitive research in tertiary institutions in the country, a move that recently got the blessing of President Muhamadu Buhari, with the approval of N5 billion for a National Research Fund that would be accessed as research grants by lecturers.
Others were the internal restructuring and realignment of the agency, that include the renaming of Human Resources Management Department as Human Resource and General Administration; the Education Support Service Department was also reverted to its initial nomenclature as Department of Research and Development/Centre of Excellence.
During his interactive with heads of public institutions, Prof. Bogoro told the institutions and their contractors without mincing words that TETFund has amplified its anti-corruption and investigative verification drive, warning that poorly executed jobs, delay in project execution and other sundry corrupt practices would be strongly resisted and punished accordingly.
As he put it: “TETFund more than ever before seriously frowns at the diversion of funds meant for contractors to related expenditures and investments thereby delaying project completion. The sluggish implementation of projects which result in huge accumulated/unaccessed funds is worrisome.
“Beneficiary institutions are reminded of the Board’s decision not to allow more than four years accumulated allocation,” stressing that TETFund Board of Trustees has approved stiffer penalties for defaulting institutions.
Confirming the development, Sir Fidel Onyeneke, lecturer at the Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Owerri, Imo State and Dr. Ali Bilar Alex, Deputy Director (Academic Planning) at the same institution, attest to the quantum leap being experienced in the tertiary institutionssince Prof. Bogoro returned to the saddle. They are optimistic that within a short period of time, institutions which comply with the accounting procedures set by TETFund and had complied with agreed standards would witness unprecedented transformations. With particular reference to the human capital efforts of TETFund, they expressed the hope that in the near future, Nigerian universities and polytechnics would reassert as aming the best globally and in the continent.