By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye
The Federal Government has said it hope to spend N150 billion as regular and normal intervention for public universities, polytechnics and colleges of education this year.
The government, which disclosed that tertiary institutions in the country were eligible to access the fund, said the cash would be disbursed to all beneficiary institutions in the country.
The Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Dr. Abdullahi Baffa, said this in an interview with reporters at the 7th TETFund interactive forum jointly organized by the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) in Lagos with the theme: “Sustaining Education Tax Collections and Disbursements under a Depressed Economy.”
He explained that the cash would be released to the beneficiary institutions in trenches after they have met the conditions to access the funds.
Dr. Baffa stated that private universities would not benefit from the disbursement of the cash.
He said: “We are proposing to spend N150 billion as regular, normal intervention and this is the one that is shared among the beneficiary institutions on equality of Universities, equality of Polytechnics and equality of Colleges of Education.
“All our beneficiary institutions are going to benefit; for all Universities, it is the same amount, for Polytechnics, the same amount and all Colleges of Education, the same amount.
“Private Universities will not benefit; no and not through the intervention of TETfund because TETfund is for public tertiary institutions defined by the law to mean public Universities, public Polytechnics and public Colleges of Education. There is no plan in the pipeline and not in the near future for public funds to be extended to private Universities.
“It is not about application, they are entitled to TETfund intervention and allocation is given to them. And so, it is only left for all beneficiary institutions to meet the requirements and conditions for access and they can draw. These conditions of access are very straightforward but the key thing is transparency and accountability.
“You can’t draw subsequent intervention until you account satisfactorily for the previous one. It is as simple as that. We have an excellent monitoring and evaluation system. We don’t release these funds 100 per cent. We release them in three trenches. If you meet certain conditions, we give you first trench. If you utilise that, we go to the field, monitor. And if we are satisfied that the money has been used judiciously and it has reached the level that it is expected, then we treat your request for second trench.
“We process your second trench releases, you go and utilise it, when you are done with using the second trench, you notify us. We come to the site, monitor and evaluate what you have done and then we will process your application for the last and final trench. So, it is all about transparency and accountability and judicious use of public funds in public interest.”
He stated that the oil sector accounts for 80 per cent of education tax collection in the country.
According to him, the FIRS has a major role to play by ensuring the improvement in the education tax collections that are made available to TETFund for disbursement to the public tertiary institutions.
Baffa said: “At the moment the oil sector accounts for about 80% of education tax collection. We are optimistic that when the non-oil sector is harnessed and developed, the economy would be a lot healthier with the attendant implication of national prosperity and development. We are very positive about the implication of this to education tax collections.
“We shall continue to keep our tab on all TETFund beneficiary institutions by ensuring all our guidelines and processes for accessing and utilization of interventions are strictly adhered to.
“We shall continue to be guided by our establishment Act in disbursing and distributing interventions equitably among the beneficiary institutions. And in all these, we shall continue to remain committed to protecting the public interest by ensuring that there is optimal value for money for every project in every beneficiary institution.”
He said President Muhammadu Buhari was deeply concerned about the low ranking of Nigeria’s university globally.
“Mr. President is deeply worried about the low ranking of Nigeria’s tertiary education institutions and so TETFund has been challenged to reverse the trend.
“To achieve this would require among other things focused and targeted inflow of funding in our beneficiary institutions through the fund.
“We also intend to work closely with regulatory bodies in the education sector such as the National Universities Commission (NUC), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), and National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) to ensure that quality and standard are improved and sustained,” he added.