By DAYO ADESULU
The Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Dr. Musa Babayo, has disclosed that N300 billion meant for tertiary institutions, was lying idle in TETFund’s Project Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Babayo who lamented the dearth in building institutional capacity pointed out that the release of the second phase of the N200 billion for universities’ infratructure development was in progress. However, for the N100 billion released in August last year, only nine universites had submitted their proposals to TETFund for Approval in Principle (AIP).
Babayo who spoke at the 11th Governing Board meeting of the National Universities Commission (NUC), which held for two days at the Commission’s Secretariat, Abuja, informed the NUC Board that since the Commission became a member of the TETFund Board, the two agencies had been collaborating on a number of initiatives. And this had helped immensely in completion of university projects.
The chairman pledged the Fund’s continued support to the NUC in its quest to sustain the growth of the Nigerian University System (NUS). He also sought the Board’s help to engage universities to take full advantage of TETFund interventions, stressing that the problem of the NUS was not lack of funds, but the capacity for utilisation.
Babayo, however, gave a run down of other unaccessed funds under the Book Development Programme (where only five PhD theses were found publishable into textbooks out of the hundreds that were submitted), the National Research Fund Programme, with a seed money of N10 billion, much of which was yet to be accessed, Academic Staff Training and Development Programme (the monitoring of which NUC now participates in) as well as the High Impact Fund targeted at selected institutions in each geo-political zone.
The Executive Secretary of NUC, Professor Julius A. Okojie, explained that the Commission became a member of the TETFund Board about a year ago, adding that the NYSC National Awardees’ Scholarship and the Presidential Scholarship Scheme for Innovation and Development (PRESSID) were about the best looked after in the system, based on the relationship between the two agencies. He also disclosed that proposals from universities, which did not win a slot in the African Centres of Excellence (ACE) project, would be sent to TETFund for consideration.
The Chairman and members of the NUC Board thanked Dr. Babayo for the information and urged TETFund to create more public awareness on its activities, especially with respect to unaccessed funds. Dr. Ali noted that a lack of executive capacity by university administrators was a problem that needed to be tackled.
He therefore charged TETFund and NUC to consider a training programme on enhancing executive capacity for vice-chancellors or engaging consultants to help them break the vicious cycle of universities’ inability to access the much needed TETFund interventions.
The Board also made a case for the introduction of sanctions, a strategy for monitoring projects and the education of members of university communities to monitor the funds coming into their institutions.