From Lateef Taiwo, Makurdi
Management of Tertiary Education Trust Fund,TETFUND,has disclosed that it has expended about N400 billion on projects in tertiary institutions across the country.
Executive Secretary TETFUND Sonny Echono who made the disclosure yesterday in a chat with journalists during the agencies 2023 management retreat held at Eya Hotels in Makurdi, to review the years performance, receive feedback and make projections for 2024 in a breakdown said the approved disbursement for the year under review was about N320 billion but added that the organization had expended in excess of about N100 billion released to some institutions as a result of the backlog of previous allocations some institutions could not access.
He said TETFUND under his leadership has created avenues to assist institutions whose funds were held because of the streamlined process that was practiced as well as to assist such institutions access their backlog funds, adding that the development has made the 2023 expended figures grow from N320 billion to over N400 billion.
The executive secretary who said the policy has created window for most of the outstanding allocations to be now accessed, equally said TETFUND under his watch has removed little bottle necks hampering completion of projects, adding that cases of abandoned projects has become a thing of the past.
He expressed optimism that with the reforms introduced by his administration, if the tempo of work would be sustained in the next 2-3 years, issues such as institutions not being able to access funds allocated to them for 3-4 or even 5 years as was the case in the past would be eliminated.
Echono equally frawned at cases of abscondment by scholars of tertiary institutions sponsored by TETFUND to study in foreign countries, warning that any beneficiary of it’s scholarship who failed to return to the country after study would be made to refund in full the money spent on his or her training.
He announced other punitive measures to include collaborating with Nigerian embassies of such countries where Nigerian scholars are studying, adding that TETFUND has made it a condition for further patronage that those who refused to leave after their programmes must be exposed by their institutions of study to relevant authorities of such countries for possible repatriation, since they were studying on visas that have not expired or did not permit them to seek employment and described the act as abuse of their visas.
The TETFUND executive secretary who expressed displeasure why some scholars have chosen to abuse the opportunity given them to build capacity to improve on their careers, while describing the figures of absconded scholars as alarming, insisted that if such people refused to do the needful,the federal government would have no other option than to subject them to face migration laws including repatriation.