By Sam ADEGBE, Abuja
Fund Stuns Senate, Exonerates Bogoro’s Management Team
How Petitioners Mislead Senate Into Controversy
Available facts may have exonerated the management of the Tertiary Institutions Trust Fund, TETFund, which is facing a committee of the Nigerian senate to defend allegations of mismanaging of over N200 Billion, alleged to have been remitted into the coffers the fund, between 2012 and 2013, being proceeds from 2% tax deductions on contracts across the country.
nationalTRAIL findings indicates that the Nigerian senate may have goofed by inadvertently being dragged into acting out a script for some desperate office seekers, which may eventually rubbish its proclaimed transparent oversight, following revelations that the celebrated N200Billion alleged scam was a hoax after all.
Senator Abdullahi Aliyu, from Niger state, somehow unsure of his own figures, who raised the alarm on the floor of the Nigerian senate last December, may have inadvertently misled his distinguished colleagues into a needless controversy, and a wild goose chase, an exercise generally viewed by the public with suspicion.
The senate Committee on tertiary institutions which was mandated to probe the allegation, must have been stunned by TETFund’s submissions to the effect that the search for the money in its coffers was misplaced, and the petition a mere conjecture, lacking facts to warrant the interest the Nigerian senate seem to show on the matter.
Our correspondent reports that, proofs being placed before the senate committee include the fact that Professor Suleiman Bogoro, the executive secretary of TETFund, and ostensibly the target of the attack, came on board on April 14th 2015, and the issues being complained about took place long before he came to the office. To this end, he was not in the best position to explain the actions being queried, even if such actions were wrongly taken.
This is even as nationalTRAIL findings further reveal that, records point to the fact that, contrary to what the petitioner wanted the Senate to believe, and probe, TETFund never accessed the said money, and could not have mismanaged what was neither remitted to its accounts, nor given to it in whatever form.
On the other hand, a Presidential committee, headed by former Benue state Governor, Gabriel Suswan, may have accessed N273.9 Billion, directly from the Central Bank in 2013, with the express approval of former President Goodluck Jonathan, and disbursed the funds to 59 tertiary institutions across the country under the NEEDS Assessment programme of the then Federal Government.
Although the NEEDS Assessment Intervention could have been ordinarily covered by the Act establishing TETFund, the then government in its wisdom did not deem it expedient to channel the funds through TETFund, though, TETFund and other stakeholders were part of the Suswan’s Committee, which was reported to have done a swell job, as many projects have been verified to have been undertaken under the intervention.
These revelations in TETFunds submission before the senate, since the petition was tabled on the floor of the senate, tends to lend credence to the suspicion that the Senate was being cajoled into acting out a script used to mischievously set up Professor Suleiman Bogoro, and his the management at TETFund, to ensure their ouster so as to pave way for a preferred candidate as head of the organization.
Be that as it may, the management of TETFund, our correspondent learnt, has made a good defense of its position over the matter, revealing to the Nigerian Senate that, it eyes are being deliberately covered from the achievements of TETFund under Professor Bogoro , by portraying his management as corrupt. The fund explained that it was not ready to compromise the integrity for which it has been known for over the years.
It remains a fact that TETFund has been adjudged for three consecutive years as the most performing and transparent Government agency, just as it is a truism that, the fund has sponsored the execution of projects in virtually every tertiary institution in Nigeria under its purview.
Records indicate that TETFund has sponsored amongst many others, the completion of projects at the Moddibo Adama University, Yola, Adamawa State Polytechnic, also in Yola, Gombe State University, Kebbi State University of science and technology, Aliero, Yaba College of technology, Lagos, University of Ibadan, Federal University of Technology, Akure and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, amongst several others.
Available records also indicate the sponsorship of projects at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Michael Okpara University, Umudike, the University of Jos, Nasarfawa State University, Keffi, College of Education, Akwanga, the University of Ilorin, Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto, Bayero University Kano, as well as the Federal College of Education, Zaria.
Amongst other universities positively affected by TETFund, outside the controversial N200 Billion, include, the University of Port Harcourt, University of Benin, Akwa Ibom State University, Niger Delta University on Wilberforce Island, Federal College of Education, Obudu, the university of Maiduguri, Federal Polytechnic Damaturu and the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in Bauchi, to mention but a few.
According to our findings, while the petitioners misfired in falsely accusing TETFund of mismanaging funds that never accrued to it, the issue of bias in the sponsorship of projects has been proven to be false as TETFund projects cut across all tertiary institutions in the country, depending on their size and needs. Access to TETFund intervention is usually predicated upon performance and usage of previous allocations, we learnt.
Stakeholders in the education sector, as well as staff of TETFund, while giving TETFund management a pat on the back for prudence, and visibility of projects across tertiary institutions, were quick to dismiss attempts at linking Professor Bogoro’s management with unwholesome practices.
Some staff of the organisation, told our correspondent on conditions of anonymity that, Suleiman Bogoro, from Bauchi State, who is billed to appear before the Senate Committee on Tertiary Education on Tuesday, to re-echo TETFund defences, may be facing religious persecution by some forces, who have not hidden their disdain for his rising profile and continued stay in the office, at the expenses of their own preferred candidates.
To some, it was rather curious that issues in the petition had been subjects of past investigations, and its resurgence on the floor of the senate smacks of political witch hunting, given the fact that Bogoro was appointed by the immediate past administration which most people perceive as corrupt in all facets. “The petition stems from a recycled issue which had been investigated and dismissed by appropriate authorities”, one of them intoned.
Professor Bogoro, a minority Christian from Bauchi state has declined comments on the perceived tussle between him and some political forces from the north East, but our correspondent who has been following developments around him reports that, he seems to be getting too relevant in the politics and governance of the country, which in turn makes some people uncomfortable, given the unfolding trends in the politics of Bauchi State in particular.
Investigations in the senate reveal that most senators who initially believed the allegations contained in the petition and supported the probe are beginning to soft paddle, as it is becoming clear that they were misled into crucifying the organization, which many others are looking up to as a model.