By Abdulwahab Abdulah
LAGOS — HUMAN rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, has challenged the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, to ensure the unutilised education intervention fund amounting to about N463 billion is immediately disbursed by the TETFUND to the tertiary institutions owned by the federal and state governments.
Falana, who disclosed that the tertiary institutions did not access N250billion from the account of TETFUND from 2011-2016 narrated that the sum of N213.4 billion is outstanding for 2017 alone.
Addressing the 20th Delegates Conference of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, at the Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi State, Mr. Falana commended the union for the initiative which led to the enactment of the TETFUND Act in 1992.
He said: “The sum of N463 billion is lying fallow at the Central Bank of Nigeria while public universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education are underfunded.”
He said that the 78 public universities are entitled to about 50 percent of the total sum of N463 billion in the TETFUND Account.
Urging the TETFUND board to urgently review the cumbersome guidelines for accessing the fund, the lawyer called on the ASUU and other campus unions to monitor the collection of the education tax, the disbursement, and management of the intervention fund by the authorities of tertiary institutions. He informed the ASUU leaders that, “due to the failure of the staff and student unions to monitor the fund over the years not less than N250 billion has been criminally diverted from the TETFUND by some unscrupulous school administrators with the connivance of the former board members of the TETFUND.”
Mr. Falana advised TETFUND to stop imposing a ban on institutions from accessing the fund because some past administrators failed to render account of the monies collected by them, instead of imposing collective punishment on the innocent staff and students of such institutions, he suggested that TETFUND should submit names of such administrators to the police and the anti-graft agencies for investigation and possible prosecution.
“Since successive governments have paid lip service to the funding of education, without the intervention of TETFUND the public tertiary institutions would have collapsed. As the various governments have failed to make provision for capital projects in public schools TETFUND has become the only source of funding infrastructural development and research in all the public tertiary institutions,” he said.