How The Facts shame vendors
of Fake News, Hate Speech against TETFund
By Ezenwa Samuel
Every day those who canvass the Hate Speech and Fake News bill are provided more and more weapons to argue for their draconian quest to deny decent Nigerians their fundamental God-given right to speak, to say their minds on how their affairs are run.
That is my take on the litany of apparently sponsored lies targeting the return of the Chief Executive of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Executive Secretary, Prof. Suleiman Elias Bogoro, a Professor whose event packed mandate was interrupted mid-stream by a cocktail of fake stories, so confirmed after two years of his absence from TETFund, and an obviously rigorous inquest into the barely two years he had spent at the helm, before his abrupt departure.
Prof. Bogoro's return, courtesy of Presidential reinstatement, facilitated by the Honourable Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, was a legendary and epoch making event. It was probably the first time anywhere, in any agency in Nigeria, that a Chief Executive sent away over assumed infractions (that were to prove as fake as fake currency) returned to his post to be received by a jubilant, celebrating crowd of staff, beneficiary institutions as well as Nigerian scholars all over the world, offering prayers of gratitude to the Almighty God for his reinstatement. That was after a period of a lackluster tenure whose attention was more on things other than the core mandate of the intervention agency.
Whereas the concerns of the Fund as explicitly stated in its Vision Statement is: "to be a world class public sector interventionist agency in the Nigerian education sector", the period Prof. Bogoro was away, it was totally overwhelmed by a diversionary political sycophancy that has no place in the redemptive and leads agenda of Mr. President.
TETFund's Mission Statement reaffirms the Vision: "to deliver effective, dynamic and sustainable intervention programmes to the educational system in Nigeria through funding and efficient project management".
That the Buhari Government had the courage to do a dispassionate review of the times under a professional, appointed by the previous regime and still recall him to his duty post, speaks to the affirmation of quality and integrity of the Government on the one hand, and on the other the deserved quality and professional and management credentials of the returned Chief Executive.
Since his triumphant return, the Executive Secretary, Prof. Bogoro has returned the intervention agency to the core mandate it was set up for: to add value to and improve upon the teaching and learning environment in our universities, polytechnics and colleges of education. "To use Funds generated from Educational Tax (ET) to improve the quality of education in Nigeria", afterall is its publicly stated Corporate Objective.
Since his return there has been a breathtaking flurry of activities. Numerous projects were commissioned in rapid succession. Scores of projects were inspected and reviewed on a daily basis. Life has been breathed back into the TETFund. Some of the projects initiated shortly after Prof. Bogoro's return are already nearing completion, in less than one year of his resumption at TETFund headquarters. In one of the universities in the South South, a particular multimillion Naira project that began from scratch in January is now fully completed. It was formally commissioned in November, of the same Year 2019.
Unlike previous regimes where unwarranted and garish partisan political considerations were a self serving passion, under Prof. Bogoro, the purpose of the Agency is no doubt education, its focus is education. And to cap it all, Bogoro's passion is education.
The fast paced Prof. Suleiman Bogoro management in its commitment to deliver on the TETFund mandate has kept all watchers of the Nigerian education scene enthralled by the many projects initiated, completed and commissioned. And the many more now on the starting block.
What is more amazing is now that education has once again been reinstated to center stage, Executive Secretary, Prof. Bogoro has commissioned an impressive array of university dons and other professionals to review projects and interventions in whatever form by the Fund covering the past twenty years. The professors and other professionals are led by noted academics, Professor Placid Njoku and Professor Nazeefi Darma, as Co-Chairmen in this novel and impartial assessment of the impact of interventions, in what is termed "impact assessment of TETFUND Projects".
The Team of Assessors set up in September 2019, is to review all the 211 beneficiary institutions covered by TETfund's presence in the past 20 years. 60 Professors, 120 Technical Experts, with State Lead Researchers and their Assistants were charged that the task ahead of them: "was for the conduct of TETFund Interventions Impact Assessment in all beneficiary institutions cutting across 79 universities, 63 Federal and State Polytechnics and 69 Federal and State Colleges of Education".
Prolific author in academic journals and highly sought after public affairs commentator Co-Chairman of the Assessors, Prof. Nazeefi Darma who teaches Development Economics at Univeristy of Abuja and is also Lead Consultant of "Econometrica Consultants" had served as a Director at the National Planning Commission (NPC), with the brief among others of participating in a Think Tank xraying the economy and packaging a weekly report for the President. Prof. Placid Njoku is an equally celebrated academic. It is this Team that has been going through the maze of the massive interventions made over the years, to use the past as a bearing for more effective fine tuning of interventions in the future to further fit Impact Needs.
Yet, we unfortunately get to read lies and deliberate spins rehashing repeated bogus attacks on the TETFund that clearly keep giving ammunition to the campaigners asking for gagging and harsh punitive measures to be meted on purveyors of Fake News and what clearly goes for Hate Speech. What, but Hate Speech do you call the ceaseless attacks on a management that has reawakened the TETFund? What, but Fake News do you call the sustained repetition of clearly exposed and debunked tales that are recycled again and again? Yes, Fake News and Hate Speech are the only names for such mendacious tales. Especially when you read that in the first place, the anchor report, on which the lies are hinged has no relationship with the Prof. Bogoro led TETFund. In fact what reports the tales rely on are in themselves not any indictment on the Fund. If you read through the report bank its sequences and chronology, this is obvious in the glaring bold print of the document that the Fakers rely on.
Firstly, the period referred to in the report coincided with a time when Prof. Bogoro was not at the Fund. The report, sourced from a BDO Consultancy's summary online, from pages 158 to 160 of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), as condensed in the "FASD Summary Report 2012 - 2016 Fiscal Years" did not indict the Fund, nor did it ascribe any infraction of rules in its activities.
What it did was to confirm TETFund's role as mere receiver of Educational Tax revenues from the FIRS, revenues that it forwards as interventions to deserving institutions as outlined in its mandate. And this mandate, it draws from "the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Establishment), Act, 2011 which repealed education Tax Act Cap E4 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Education Tax Fund (Amendment) Act No. 17, 2003", as captured in the reported overview of the NEITI consultants: "it (TETFund) came to effect in June 2011 with a mandate to engage in the rehabilitation, reformation and consolidation of tertiary education in Nigeria".
In conformity with the Prof. Bogoro led TETFund's own transparency initiatives, the same report in "Table 80: Monthly and Annual Breakdown of Revenue by Sources for the period 2012 - 2016", captured the total receipts for each month as verified by a "CBN/TETFUND Statement of Accounts Template". And it is available online for public consumption.
However in item "6.9.3, Limitation in scope", the consultant reported that the previous management before the return of Prof. Bogoro had twice failed to honor introduction letters from NEITI on 10th April 2016 and on 8th June 2018. The consultants said "in both cases, we were informed that the Executive Secretary had not yet given his permission" for them to "come and review the submitted templates" so as "to validate the templates".
For vendors of "hate speech" and "fake news" against TETFund and its vibrant Executive Secretary, in both instances cited by the Consultants, forming the shaky backbone of their tissue of lies, Prof. Bogoro was not the Fund's chief executive as at that time. And even so, the attacks were not based on facts as clearly exposed in the submissions.
What is more, let's look at what Prof. Bogoro and TETFund have been doing in his tenure thus far. Without prompting, Prof. Bogoro has set up a Projects and Interventions Impact Assessment Team. He has also set up another team to evaluate and validate quality in services rendered in the education sector.
Prof. Bogoro has, since returning to office in February last year, been busy directing the inspection, review, commissioning and foundation laying of various interventions supported by the TETFund, locally? And internationalIy he leads the review of scholars funded by TETFund, a great number of whom have been abandon to their own devices with no lifeline to hold to.
A whirlwind of activity by the TETFund in only three days, 28th, 29th and 30th of November 2019, exemplifies the transparent nature of activity by the Fund since Prof. Bogoro resumption as Executive Secretary of the Fund.
The Acting Chairman, TETFund Board of Trustees' Prof. Abubakar Adamu Rashid; with Executive Secretary, Prof. Suleiman Bogoro and House of Representatives Education Committee Chairman, Honorable Aminu Suleiman Goro covered 28 TETFund projects in three days across four states of the South-South and South-East Geo-Political Zones of the Country.
November 28th 2019 was planned for the TETFund train to start with Delta State University, Abraka to review progress on the construction and furnishing of a modern Library Complex.
Thirteen projects were commissioned while two were kickstarted via foundation laying on the same date of November 28th at Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma, Edo State where the university's radio and television station of the Mass Communications Department were fully equipped with intervention funds from TETFund.
The projects are 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 Interventions. Of the number, the same day had five numbers 2017 High Impact Projects at Edo State Polytechnic (formerly Edo State Institute of Management and Technology) Usen, Edo State and three others at University of Benin, Benin City one of which was started from scratch in January and completed for the 28th November commissioning, spanning one of the shortest project completion cycles in recent times.
On 29th November 2019, Delta and Anambra State Projects on the TETFund schedule were 2 nos of 2018 High Impact Projects, an administrative block building for School of Technology Education and Construction of a Library Building. Then there was a 2015 Special Intervention Project for Delta State Polytechnic, Ugwashi-Uku for the construction of an Administrative Block of Staff Offices.
For the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 there are projects at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State for the construction of Central Laboratories for Engineers and construction of an Engineering Workshop.
November 30th was the third consecutive day of the TETFund commissioning and foundation laying roadshow. Beneficiaries showcased, include Imo State University, Owerri 2017 High Impact Projects, 2015 Annual Interventions, 2015 Special Interventions.
Others are 2016 High Impact Projects and Special Intervention Projects at Imo State Polytechnic, Umuagwo that had an ICT office built and furnished plus classroom blocks and offices while Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) Imo State, was beneficiary of completed and commissioned 2015 Special Intervention Projects for Academic Staff Offices built and furnished with the Fund's Interventions. Of ongoing projects inspected was the FUTO Science Park Project.
With such a public and transparent rendering of account of activities showcase projects worth hundreds and billions of Naira, it beats the imagination how any hack could go to press, even in the most disreputable of publications to upbraid the TETFund while the facts extol the virtues of the Agency!
What is public, measureable and verifiable is that under Prof. Bogoro no project is ignored, no submission from any beneficiary institution is denied a hearing. But then no beneficiary would dare toy with intervention funds entrusted to, and disbursed by, TETFund after all due process. That is why scores of professors, professionals and technical support teams have been unleashed on all areas covered by the Fund in the past twenty years to gauge impact and define a course from the bearings, gotten from the past.
That is why we are compelled to issue these notes to dispel the Fake News, and all the repetitive Hate Speeches, so that honorable media houses will do the needful and ensure they confirm and verify stories before going to press, lest they be made a laughing stock; or worse, they lose credibility from the discerning reading public.
And, please don't get me wrong. I hate all talk of the Hate Speech bill too, as much as I detest Fake News; but then I also hate purveyors of Fake News and Hate Speech with a passion.
As for us, here, we have volumes upon volumes of records that we churn out regularly on TETFund activities on conventional print media, the broadcast media and more on many social media platforms as we have nothing to hide. Ours is to state the facts as they are. And this, we thank God!, we have done.
And we thank God, the facts have clearly put to shame vendors of Fake News and Hate Speech, railing against Prof. Suleiman Bogoro and TETFund. For this, yet again we thank God!
EZENWA SAMUEL Esq.,
is of Public Affairs Department, TETFund,
No. 6 Zambezi Crescent,
off Aguiyi Ironsi Street, Maitama District, Abuja