NASS February Oversight visit: TETFund itemises challenges, way forward
by Muhammad Al'amin,
The PYRAMID Reporter
As the Federal agency set up for targeted interventions in tertiary education institutions, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has drawn attention to challenges it faces at a briefing for members of the National Assembly tertiary education and services committee in the course of the committee's oversight facility tour.
The committee was at a meeting held in the TETFund's Zambezi Crescent premises in the Maitama District of Abuja, shortly before the onset of the global COVID19 pandemic, in February (24/02/2020). Briefing the committee chairman and members after an interactive session with Professor Suleiman Bogoro, the Executive Secretary at the head of Management and some TETfund Board of Trustees members, Director, Finance and Investment (DFI), Alhaji Idris A. O. Sa'idu handed over written details of the state of the agency which he signed off on behalf of the Executive Secretary.
In the document which was a point by point response to a February 19, 2020 letter tagged, "notification of oversight visit to your Organisation", the TETFund Finance and Investment Director, highlighted five key challenges and seven pointers on the way forward to move operations of the agency as it continues to actualise its mandate.
Key challenges itemised are an upsurge in requests "for enlistment of newly established Public Tertiary Education Institutions" into the TETFund scheme by State Governments and the Federal Government; delay in release of two (2%) percent Education Tax collections by Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF). DFI Idris reports thattthe re was "no release of any amount of Education Tax (EDT) in 2019 Tax Collections until 19th February 2020". That was when N110 billion was credited to the Fund's Project Account with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), he revealed.
Other challenges, TETfund reported to the House Committee, include "frequent borrowing" and "withdrawal from 2% Education Tax by the Federal Government". For example the "sum of N263.99 billion was borrowed in 2013", while in 2017 the sum of N58 billion was also borrowed with another N40 billion taken in 2018. All these sums have not been refunded as at the February date of the House Committee oversight call at the Fund, said Finance and Investment Director.
Of significance is the problem of fluctuations in the global price of oil and gas, said Director Alhaji Idris, lamenting that 70 percent of Education Tax (EDT) collections are from the Oil and Gas sector, as such any "fluctuation in the sector will adversely affect the Fund's revenues". According to him another challenge to the delivery of TETFund's mandate is the "poor level of project delivery by many beneficiary institutions".
On the "Way forward", TETFund told the visiting legislators that its Board of Trustees has limited the Fund's intervention to not a maximum of "two (2) state owned beneficiary institutions in any of the sectors". This refers to only two institutions, from among any of a given state's universities, polytechnics or colleges of education. Five other viable factors for keeping hope alive at TETFund were spelt out including a need to ensure proper debt instruments before the Fund's monies area accessed, sensitization, training and capacity building for intervention project managers at the tertiary institutions.
Copies of the submission in electronic and hard copy formats were passed to the Chairman and Members of the House Committee.