The Academic Staff Union of Universities, Tertiary Education Trust Fund and others have opposed the proposed inclusion of Federal Colleges of Agriculture and Agriculture Research Institutions as beneficiaries of the multi billion naira Trust Fund.
ASUU and Civil Soviety Organizations informed the Senate Committee on TETFund over the weekend that the inclusion of such institutions would not only weaken the effectiveness of TETFund, but may further plunge the nation’s ailing education sector into more crisis.
Meanwhile the seven-year-old agency has told the Senate Committee on Tertiary Education that it requires a whopping N2.3 trillion to meet the needs of the existing beneficiary institutions.
ASUU and TETFund in their separate submissions at the one-day public hearing on the proposed amendment to the TETFund Act, organised by Senate Committee on Tertiary Education, advised against admitting scores of institutions jostling to join the long list of the beneficiaries of the fund to work out a similar agency to take care of them.
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Jubril Barau, told the forum that “so many people are of the view that these institutions should have their own agency and not to chase TETFund”.
The agency in its position paper said the financial requirement “amounted to N1.2 trillion for Universities, N491 billion for Colleges of Education and N702 billion for Polytechnics respectively, hence the total funding required for restoration amounted to N2.393 trillion.
“The funding requirement per capita per University for the 74 beneficiaries based on the 2012 Needs Assessment Report amounted to N16.22 billion.
“Per Capita/institution financial Requirement for 58 Polytechnics amounted to N6.742 billion.National Assembly should discourage any amendment to the TETFund Act 2011 seeking to expand the list of beneficiaries of the Fund to include the Federal Colleges of Agriculture and Agricultural Research Institutes as this would inevitably result in thinning out the intervention funds and reducing the impact of the Fund.”
In his presentation against the inclusion, the Executive Secretary of TETfund, Dr. Abdullahi Bichi, explained that inclusion of Federal Colleges of Agriculture and Agricultural Research Institutions as beneficiaries of TETFund would impose more onerous obligations on the Fund.
Bichi said the inclusion of Colleges of Agriculture and Agriculture Research Institutions would mean the drop in the world ranking of most Nigerian institutions that are already lagging behind.
He added that if the amendment is approved by the National Assembly, it would frustrate the government’s effort to consolidate the Fund’s intervention in the provision of infrastructure and capacity building in Nigerian tertiary education sector.
The Executive Secretary, who was represented by Director of Finance, Alhaji Saidu Idris, also said the admissibility of Colleges of Agriculture into TETFund listing is an attempt to weaken a structure that is working well for the education sector by overburdening it with greater funding responsibilities.
The Executive Secretary asked the Federal Colleges of Agriculture and Agricultural Research Institutions to explore other ways of sustaining their operations.
He said: “The agitation for the inclusion of Federal Colleges of Agriculture, which are only a segment of monotechnics in Nigeria, may further lead to avalanche of requests for amendment of TETFund Act to include other monotechnics such as School of Health Technology, School of Nursing, School of Legal and Islamic Studies etc.
“The proposed Bills in effect would among other things seek to return TETFund to the ETF regime which operated for over 17 years and brought to the fore the several flaws associated with that regime which the National Assembly corrected in the TETFund Act 2011.
“The proposed amendments if approved would impose greater financial burden and exposure to TETFund. Indeed the proposed amendment will impose more onerous obligations on TETFund which will frustrate the government’s effort to consolidate the Fund’s intervention in the provision of infrastructure and capacity building in Nigerian tertiary education sector.”
Speaking against the admissibility, the National President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said TETFund is yet to make the impact it was set up for and therefore the inclusion of Colleges of Agriculture into the Trust Fund will weaken the effectiveness of the agency.
Ogunyemi said Nigerian institutions are rated in Africa due to the activities of TETFund, adding that what defines education of a country is the quality of tertiary institutions as incubators and it is the crowning glory.
However, the Ministry of Agriculture, Vetirinary Council of Nigeria and Federal Colleges of Agriculture demanded for their admissibility into beneficiaries of the multi billion naira Trust fund.
In its presentation, the Ministry of Agriculture said the inclusion will create a platform for food security and agricultural advancement in Nigeria, adding that it would create sustainable foundation for the youths in Nigeria.