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Echono: Fixing the rot in Nigeria’s higher institutions, the TETFund example  

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Echono: Fixing the rot in Nigeria’s higher institutions, the TETFund example  

HANNATU LOT D. writes on efforts by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund(TETFund) to gradually tackle the myriad of challenges facing the nation’s higher institutions

Following the decay in the nation’s education sector which became manifest in the 1980’s and beyond, the Federal Government, in 1990, constituted the Commission on the Review of Higher Education in Nigeria (the Gray Longe Commission) to review the post-independence Nigerian Higher Education after Lord Ashby’s Commission of 1959.

Among others, the Commission recommended the funding of higher education through earmarked tax to be borne by companies operating in Nigeria. An implementation committee under the chairmanship of Professor Olu O. Akinkugbe, was constituted to implement the Grey Longe’s Commission report recommendations even as an agreement was signed between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff of Universities’ Union (ASUU) on the 3rd September, 1992 on funding of universities. With all other processes followed, the Education Trust Fund (ETF) was born.

TETFund is also practically an intervention agency set up to provide supplementary support to all levels of public tertiary institutions and saddled with the responsibilities of using funding alongside projects management, for the rehabilitation, restoration, and consolidation of tertiary education in Nigeria.

The main source of income available to the Fund is the two percent education tax paid from the assessable profit of companies registered in Nigeria. The Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) assesses collects the tax on behalf of the Fund.

Mandates

Among other mandates, TETFund disburses its funds “for the general improvement of education in federal and state tertiary educations specifically for the provision or maintenance of: Essential physical infrastructure for teaching and learning; Institutional material and equipment; Research and publications; Academic staff training and development and any other need which, in the opinion of the Board of Trustees, is critical and essential for the improvement and maintenance of standards in the higher educational institutions.”

Echono’s strides

Under the watch of Arc. Sonny S. T. Echono, the Fund has seen better days and progressive with its quintessential and stellar performance. Echono, a highly revered Prince of Idoma land, is a trained technocrat and bureaucrat whose antecedents are laced with transparency and accountability. He brings with him a diverse wealth of experience from procurement management, infrastructure, business administration, ICT to education sector. Echono is a reformer to the core and an experienced civil servant and administrator par excellence.

Read Also: TETFund Witnessing Myriads of Fraudulent Attempts and Malicious Allegations…

Under his watch as the Executive Secretary (ES), the agency has consistently carried out its mandatory responsibility and as a matter of urgency, embarked on a wholistic and uninterrupted reforms that are already paying off.

The Executive Secretary, TETFund, Arc. Sonny Echono and Management Staff of the Fund at the Inspection of TETFAIR Prototype Development Boot Camp at the Innovation Hub, Abuja.

The immense fecundity of fresh ideas, vision and drive the TETFund boss has brought to redefine and redirect the intervention processes and programs, to make a profound impact on our tertiary institutions.

Among others, the reforms include the curriculum review, skills acquisitions, entrepreneurship and advancement of Information and Communication Technology that are  consistently pushed to reposition the fund.

Similarly, the Fund also  formed a partnership with the Brazilian government and forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) to achieve the objective of bringing transformation in the nation’s agricultural sector.

A consortium of Nigerian researchers engaged in the Vaccine Development Mega Research Project at Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUS), sponsored by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has presented the COVID-19 DNA Vaccine Candidate(SJN3T CorVac) for preclinical trials in the country

The deal was sealed at the first Agricultural Research and Innovation Fellowship for Africa (ARIFA) Symposium held at the Federal University of Vicosa Brazil, with the theme: Pedagogic Retooling Strategy for Africa’s Agricultural Research and Innovation System.

Fresh deal for varsities, polytechnics, COEs

One of such interventions was the recent announcement by the Fund to  disburse a total of N18 billion to six public universities under its Special High Impact Intervention.

He also gave the breakdown on the 2023 Intervention Budget of N320 billion, recently approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) through its Academic Publishing Centres (APCs) and Ahmadu Bello University Press has Published Fifty (50) scholarly textbooks.The books were unveiled at a Public Presentation Ceremony by the Honourable Minister of Education, Mal. Adamu Adamu who was represented by the Honourable Minister of State for Education, Rt. Hon. Goodluck Nana Opiah.

The Special High Impact Intervention,  Echono said, is targeted at  massively injecting funds into selected tertiary institutions to achieve a major turnaround through Programme Upgrade and Improvement in the teaching and learning Environment.

A 3-day capacity Building workshop organized by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) on Public Procurement process for TETFund Beneficiary Institutions in the North West and North East Geo-political zones held in Kano.

He listed the criteria for the selection of the beneficiary institutions to include the age of the institution per geo-political zones of Nigeria among others.

Commissioning of TETFund Projects at the Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University, Benue State by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR represented by the Chairman House Committee on Tertiary Education and Services, Hon. Aminu Suleiman Goro.

Speaking at a recent  media parley in Abuja, Echoco said N3 billion would  be given to six selected universities varsities, N1billion each to six polytechnics and six colleges of education across the country, while over 95 per cent of the N320 billion total TETFund’s disbursement of 2023 would go directly to beneficiary tertiary institutions.

The Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Arc. Sunny S.T. Echono at the National Conference on Out-Of-School Children in Nigeria held in Abuja with the theme “RETHINKING THE APPROACHES TO ADDRESSING THE OUT-OF-SCHOOL CHILDREN PHENOMENON IN NIGERIA”.

The balance of  five per cent of the allocation, the TETFund boss said,  would be used for staff salaries and allowances, project monitoring and zonal capital projects.

He further said 62 per cent of the total disbursement (representing N198 billion) constituted the institutions’ annual direct disbursement, while 20 per cent of the disbursement (representing N64.2 billion) would be used for special disbursement.

Deputy Executive Secretary, NUC, Chris Maiayaki, Nigerian Ambassador to France, H.E Kayode Laro, Executive Secretary, TETFund, Arc. Sonny Echono, Director, (R&D/CE TETFund) Dr Salihu Bakari, General Manager Campus France, Donatienne Hissard and the France Ambassador in Nigeria, H.E. Emmanuelle Blatmann, during the official signing of MoU with Campus France in Paris recently.

The Special Intervention is usually at the discretion of the Board of Trustees for which allocations are zonal-based and are done equitably by the decision of the Board as enshrined in the enabling Act.

The inspection of infrastructural facilities in the Tertiary Institutions, the Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), Arc. Sonny Echono visited Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, Benue State, accompanied by Prof. Emmanuel Adanu, Director General, National Water Institute and Mr Anebi Odeh, were conducted round FUHSO complex by the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Innocent Ujah

Beneficiary institutions

The institutions listed for the interventions are Ibrahim Babangida University Lapai, Federal University Wukali in Taraba state, Federal University Birnin Kebbi, Imo State University of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Edo State University and Federal University of Technology Akure, Ondo state.

Commissioning of TETFund Projects at FCE Akwanga, Nasarawa State by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR represented by the Minister of Environment, Hon. Mohammed Abdullahi 

In the polytechnic cadre, he said, are ; “Federal Polytechnics Offa, Federal Polytechnic Gombe, Federal Polytechnic Kabo, Kano state, Anambra State Polytechnic, Federal Polytechnic of Oil and Gas, Bonny and Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology, Igboora.”

Those of the  CoEs include Plateau State COE, Federal COE,Yola, Federal COE, Zaria, Enugu State COE, Delta State COE and Taiye Solarin COE.

Nigeria and Israel have commenced collaborative moves to deepen partnership in innovation, entrepreneurship and production with the aim of harnessing Nigeria’s huge potentials for its technological development.

Speaking further, Echono said: “Many of you have seeing deplorable accommodations our students live in. For a number of years now we commence these interventions and we will encourage schools because we believe the hostels are one of the areas where private sector funding can be attracted.

“Last year we released intervention in 20 institutions and the hostels have been completed. Another 20 institutions are ready this year, that is one of the importance of the special impact project.”

Official commissioning of some TETFund sponsored projects in NDA, Kaduna State by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR represented by the Chairman   Senate Committee on Defence, Senator Aliyu Wamako.

On other possible areas of other interventions, Echono revealed  that N500 million had been allocated to some selected COEs from the six geopolitical zones for micro teaching laboratory.

The Executive Secretary, TETFund, Arc. Sonny Echono received a Life Achievement Award at the 2022 African Housing Awards held in Abuja.

While commending the Echono leadership of TETFund, analysts posit that the agency needs to do more in view of the increasing needs in the nation’s education sector.

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