CSO to Tinubu: Alleged rot in TETFund must not be swept under carpet

A coalition of civil society groups on national interest, led by the Empowerment for Unemployed Youth Initiative (EUYI), has urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration to pay proper attention to the education sector by putting a tab on alleged rot in the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).

This, according to the CSO, will save the education sector from imminent collapse.

A statement issued by the trio of Comrade Danesi Momoh, convener, Dr. Abdulquadir Lawal, director, Research and Documentation, and Amb. Olukolade Akindele, director, Mobilisation and Logistics, Wednesday, paid glowing tribute to President Tinubu for his commitment to the educational development of the country.

“Without doubt, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is paying far more than a passing attention on the education sector and educational matters. Though he inherited an education sector that is deficit in many aspects, his commitment to turning things around is visible.

“He has always maintained that without quality education, the vision of the Renewed Hope Agenda cannot be met. Consequently, he has been hammering on policies that will expand both access and facilities in the education sector.

“Unfortunately, and very sadly, however, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) which acts as the highest bridge to infrastructural and human capacity development deficit in the tertiary institutions, is in an unending crisis, caused by an alleged massive, pervasive and endemic corruption as well as undue politicisation of its activities and programmes”, the statement said.

It, however, expressed regret that instead of taking step to right the wrongs that have allegedly characterised the agency for many years, its leadership has been playing the ostrich in connivance with even lawmakers.

“It is strange that our righteous National Assembly members have failed in their oversight functions by not holding Executive Secretary Arc. Sunday Echono is accountable for many breaches to the Public Procurement Act 2007,” the group said.

It pointed to the award of a N7.6 billion contract to Fides Et Ratio Academy and Pole Global Marketing (PGM) allegedly without recourse to the Bureau of Public Procurement or the Federal Executive Council.

“What is however inexplicable is how a whooping N7.6 billion can be awarded without transparent bidding (or in this case, no bidding at all), no recourse to the Bureau of Public Procurement and no approval sought or received from the Federal Executive Council with claims of exclusivity. Echono must tell Nigeria’s about his stakes in Fides Et Ratio Academy and Pole Global Marketing (PGM). He must explain what is exclusive about giving contracts to vendors,” it added.

The rights group said, “aside the N7.6 billion contract under contention, there are a lot of lies, contradictions and institutional cover-ups in TETFund,” insisting that the Fund is too important for the development of both infrastructure and research in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions to be left in the wrong hands.

“For instance, we are constrained to accept the Executive Secretary’s claims that the illegal deduction of 50% of 2023 direct disbursement budget to institutions was on agreement with those institutions since no institution had complained.”

The coalition ended with a vow to chronicle all their findings together with evidence and dispatch a letter to the President as they urge him to waste no time in addressing the rot in TETFund, failure of which will lead to “massive protest across all tertiary institutions until something is done to address the endemic corruption affecting the funding of tertiary education in Nigeria.

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