FG Disbursement to Universities
The Federal Government last Monday, 10 May, 2022, commenced the disbursement of 2022 direct intervention funds to Public Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education (COEs), with each of the universities allocated N642, 848, 138.00k, each of the polytechnics N396, 780, 086.00k and N447, 758,804.00k to each of the COEs.
Presenting the allocation papers to Heads of the benefiting institutions at the National Universities Commission (NUC), Auditorium, Abuja, where he engaged them on a quarterly interactive session, the Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund, (TETFund), Arch. Sunday Echono, disclosed that this followed the approval by President Muhammadu Buhari and meant to lift up the institutions.
He stated that the event was part of series of engagements with stakeholders since his assumption of office as the new Executive Secretary in order to build a harmonious working relationship with relevant stakeholders to reposition the Fund for optimum performance.
Arch. Echono noted that the desire to develop human capital to service the various sectors of the Nigerian economy, primarily informed the government’s investment in the education sector. He particularly stressed that the broad areas of interventions as approved by the TETFund Board of Trustees (BoT) were categorized into the annual direct intervention and the special interventions which were usually at the discretion of the BoT or the directives of the Federal Government, saying all cases of disbursements were based on the equality of states and of geo-political zones as enshrined in the enabling Act.
According to the Act, the Funds’ mandate is to utilize initially 2% which has now become 2.5% of education tax on accessible profit of all companies registered in Nigeria to improve the conditions and quality of the nation’s public sector institutions in all areas of interventions as approved by the Board.
He clarified that the letters of allocation for the annual direct intervention would be released to the benefitting institutions at the meeting, while the allocations for special interventions would be released appropriately in due course.  
“Management has further decided to remove the need to obtain internal audit clearance on submissions to access 2nd tranche payment, where there was a final tranche outstanding. Henceforth internal audit clearance will only be required before payment of final tranche”, he said.
He said this was to eliminate bottlenecks and delays in the execution of the intervention projects.
He added that government was not unmindful of the deficit and decay in the tertiary education sub-sector, noting that it also informed the establishment of the TETFund.
The Executive Secretary lamented the instances of distressed or non-performing projects which, according to him, had become rampant and disturbing reeling out cases of abandoned projects in many universities. 
He disclosed that TETFund had about seven of such non-performing/distressed projects in University of Port Harcourt, six in Enugu State University, five in University of Nigeria, Nsukka, four in Taraba State University and University of Calabar as well as four in Kaduna State University and one at Alvan Ikoku College of Education.
Buttressing the point, Arch. Echono said: “This phenomenon becomes even more worrisome, when viewed alongside the problem of un-accessed funds. We are mindful of the intricate variables in project management and delivery as well as the constraints created by our own internal policies and ensuring that we review our processes where required but will also demand from beneficiary institutions accountability and sanctions where needed.
Arch. Echono promised to continue to build on the various successes of his predecessors to the various areas of intervention and support all critical areas including research and development, innovation and entrepreneurship education. He stated that the enormous task of repositioning the tertiary education sector for sustained relevance was a collective work and required that all stakeholders work in harmony and synergy. This, he said, involved a collection of multiple resources that provide greater value, cooperation and team work and will also require everyone’s collective experiences and expertise towards finding solutions to specific national problems and roles to achieve the desired national objective that would produce a robust and high-quality higher education sector.
He mentioned that one of the Funds’ primary areas of focus is digital literacy and the development and deployment of information and communication technology including ubiquitous broadband and data connectivity and access to our institutions to enhance their ICT capabilities. He informed all on his collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy for interventions and other needs in tertiary institutions.
He explained that the Funds’ ICT department had embarked on several projects that include departmentalization and digitalization of ACEs projects, hybridism of electronic data basis subscription projects, upgrading of internet infrastructure and bandwidth positioning project and capacity building of productivity skills, e-learning methodologies and other ICT set skills.
He mourned the drop in collectable tax by 68 billion naira, which negatively affected the amount distributed this year, as being lower than that of last year.
He also promised to work with the institutions with the aim of speeding up the completion process of the projects to ensure at least 40% completion and use before the end of the year.
Due to the paradigm shift in recent times to content-based intervention, the Fund introduced a train- the- trainer capacity building opportunity for academics by recently signing MoU with Forum for Agricultural research in Africa and a consortium of early forties university in Brazil to provide world class, more disciplinary, tuition free, masters and PhD degree programmes for Nigerian scholars strengthening the contribution of the sector to national food security.
He hoped that the African Centres of Excellence in Agriculture would in future include Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, University of Ibadan and the specialized universities of Agriculture in Makurdi and Abeokuta since capacity building for their involvement was already in motion.
He stated that part of what was expected to be achieved in the year included publication of at least 40 books through the use of universities that have publishing centres to carry out the task. He called on all beneficiaries to make effective use of all funds at their disposal in their institutions with a judicious mind.
In his remarks at the event, Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, Prof. Abubakar Adamu Rasheed commended his counterpart and described him as an encyclopedia of university education and TETFund having served at different spheres in the Ministry of Education and TETFund.
While congratulating him on his new appointment, Prof. Rasheed expressed his delight on the right choice for having him at the helm of affairs at TETFund, adding that the meeting was a good way of starting a conversation on the best way to achieve the best results for the Fund. He marveled at the impressive turnout by the participants and prayed that the meeting would help in identifying and resolving most of the challenges in the sector and map out the best ways to utilize and manage the resources.
He lamented on the destruction the pandemic had imposed on the value of the intervention funds given to benefiting institutions compared to its value pre-covid and hoped that the Executive Secretary of TETFund’s wealth of experience as a seasoned project manager would be brought to bear by producing excellent results. He encouraged everyone to seize this rare opportunity to contribute their quota to the development of the Nigerian University System and improve on strategies to keep achieving excellent results. 
Others present at the interactive session include the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Education, Executive Secretary National Commission on Colleges of Education, Chairman Committee of Provosts, Chairman Committee of Heads of Academic Institutions, Vice Chancellors, Rectors and Provosts.