No doubt, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has played a significant role in improving infrastructure in Nigerian tertiary institutions. Since its establishment in 1993, the intervention agency has provided funding for the construction and renovation of buildings, procurement of teaching and learning materials and the provision of other critical infrastructure such as Information Communication Technology (ICT) facilities. This has helped in no small way in improving the learning environment for the academic community.
From N161 billion intervention in 2019, the Arc. Sonny Echono-led agency is aiming at a quantum leap of N1 trillion in the nearest future. This, the Executive Secretary said, is feasible considering the fact that Education Tax – the main source of TETFund’s funding – has increased from N161 billion in 2019 to N683 billion in 2023 (representing percentage increase of 325 per cent).
At the heart of the education tax collection is the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) doing a yeoman’s job as acknowledged by the Executive Secretary. Echono also showered encomiums on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for graciously retaining the increase in education tax paid by all Nigerian companies from 2.5 to 3 per cent.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja recently, Echono said: “I want to sincerely appreciate the commitment of the National Assembly and efforts of the Federal Inland Revenue Services, who have been valuable partners and stakeholders in the delivery of our mandate and particularly, for the increase in collection, which surpassed the target for the year 2023. I believe that they would do even more for the year 2024 collection, as we look forward to our desired goal of achieving the N1 trillion education tax collection in the nearest future.
“I call on all heads of institutions to ensure the smooth, timely, judicious and effective implementation and utilisation of 2024 intervention allocation to make the much-needed impact in our respective tertiary institutions. I also wish to advise that in addition to the broad-based budget and project monitoring committee stated in your letter of allocation, you should consult widely with the community in the implementation of your TETFund projects. Furthermore, heads of institutions should ensure timely payments to contractors and vendors as this will allow proper completion of projects and mitigate the incidence of contractor writing letters of complaints to the Fund.
“I seize this opportunity to respectfully register our debt of gratitude to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, (GCFR) for his commitment to the development of education in his Renewed Hope agenda and to Prof. Tahir Mamman (SAN) for his leadership, trust and prompt consideration of our requests. The sector shall remain eternally grateful for his eager, dedicated and selfless service as Minister of Education.
“I would also like to express our appreciation to the heads of our regulatory agencies, the National Universities Commission (NUC), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), for their sustained support and indeed, to all the staff of the Fund for keeping faith with our reform measures. It is our fervent hope that sustained improvements in performance across all sectors and by all actors in the education family will deliver a robust and functioning system which shall be an enduring legacy of the present administration.”
TETFund has also helped to improve the capacity of staff in tertiary institutions through scholarships, training and capacity-building programmes, locally and internationally.
Just last week, the Fund awarded N761 million in scholarships to 12 university lecturers to undertake doctoral studies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines in France.
Announcing this at a pre-departure briefing in Abuja, the Executive Secretary said the TETFund Scholarship for Academic Staff Intervention (TSAS) programme was established following an agreement reached between the agency and Campus France in April 2023.
He disclosed that the chosen scholars from eight public universities across the country would receive a total of N761 million (€934,345) over three years, with each person receiving N63 million (€77,862).
“The sum of N63,457,600.40 (€77,862.16) was approved in favour of each scholar for the three (3) years of the programme, which amounts to a total of N761,491,924.80 (€934,345.92) in favour of the 12 approved scholars. These funds will be disbursed to each beneficiary in accordance with the agreement with Campus France,” Echono said.
He added that the chosen scholars would undertake various postgraduate programmes of national priority at the following universities in France: Universite Paris-Est Creteil (UPEC), France – three scholars; University of Strasbourg, Paris, France – one scholar; Universite De Lorraine (L.G.IPM), France – two scholars; Universite Claude Bernard, Lyon 1, France – three scholars; Universite Lyon 2, France – one scholar; Cancer Research Centre of Lyon, France – one scholar.
He urged the scholars to be exemplary representatives of Nigeria and take full advantage of the opportunities to participate in cutting-edge research projects, collaborate with renowned researchers and access state-of-the-art research facilities.
Echono reminded the scholars not to serve as an official representative of any government by engaging in political activities or in other activities of a public nature likely to adversely affect the reputation of the Nigerian government.
He warned the scholars not to combine the TETFund scholarship with any other sponsorship and maintenance support from any other public or private organisation during the period of study.