The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) says it is resolute and determined to continue to improve the quality of tertiary education in Nigeria and to make them globally competitive through execution of its mandates.
In view of this, the Fund has resolved to place premium on regular and effective monitoring of projects embarked upon by the beneficiaries and ensure that there is accountability and value for money.
Executive Secretary of the Fund, Dr. A.B. Baffa, gave this assurance while briefing the press in Abuja on the Access Clinic and Project Defense by TETFUND beneficiaries.
He noted that both the Access Clinic and Project proposal Defense, which held from 6th March-26th April 2017,afforded the Fund the opportunity to appreciate the challenges facing the institutions in implementing its interventions and to re-examine its processes with a view to re-focusing them for efficient and effective service delivery.
Baffa said that TETFund had also decided to institutionalize the Access Clinic and Project Proposal Defense as a yearly event in order to reduce to the barest minimum the challenges faced by the institutions in accessing their interventions.
Besides assigning its team of experts at the request of the institutions and at the Fund’s expense to train officials of benefiting institutions on the Fund’s Guidelines and processes, Baffa promised that regular sensitization and enlightenment campaigns on the Fund’s interventions would be carried out, just as the Fund’s operations would be restructure for optimum performance; as wellas acceleration of quality human capital training of TETFund staff for effective service delivery.
Dr. Baffa had on February 20, 2017 announced that as part of the commitment by TETFund to ensuring that the 2016 intervention allocations are accessed and judiciously utilized by all beneficiary institutions, the Fund would be running an Access Clinic for beneficiary institutions with backlog of unutilized funds.
In order to fast track the implementation of the intervention projects, TETFund had requested the various institutions to submit and present their proposals for defense and reconciliation before a Panel of the Fund, with Baffa explaining that the introduction of the project Proposal Defense, for the first time in the 24 years of existence of the Fund was aimed at ”shortening the process of obtaining Approval-in-principle (AIP) from the Fund and eliminate the back and forth communication which sometimes delayed the execution ofprojects/programmes.”
Giving a break-down of beneficiary institutions that made presentations at the Access Clinic/Project Proposal Defense, Baffa disclosed that the total a total of 181 beneficiary institutions defended their proposals at the Project Proposal Defense based on year 2016 allocations issued, made up of 74 Universities, 50 Polytechnics and 57 Colleges of Education.
He however noted that 16 beneficiary institutions who, on the rotation policy of the Fund did not receive the 2016 intervention allocations, were not invited to the Project Defense session but attended the Access Clinic Panel on 8thand 9th May 2017 to clear their backlog of accumulated but unaccessed funds.
According to Baffa, in the course of the interactions between the Panel and the beneficiary institutions defending their proposals for the 2016 TETFund intervention, the Panel observed majority of the institutions submitted quality proposals intending to execute projects that are in tandem with TETFund’s mandates, and which are in dire need by their institutions.
He said the panel however observednon-compliance with the Public Procurement Act of 2007, lack of knowledge of TETFund Intervention Guidelines, and wrong Priorities by Benefiting Institutions.
He further identified common issues impeding access to the intervention funds by benefiting institutions, including undue delay of payment to contractors by some beneficiariesafter receipt of first tranche of money from TETFund; refusal by some contractors to mobilize to site afterreceiving mobilization fees and; a general lack of information by the beneficiary institutions on how to effectively draw down this intervention, while most institutions do not have a Collection Development Policy (CDP) to guide their procurement of library holdings.
According to the TETFund boss, while it was observed that some of the scholars in the institutions were oblivious of the existence of this intervention thereby leading to poor access, many of the institutions had not fully accessed this intervention because of challenges of staffing especially the newly established Universities, just as most times proposals are submitted after this timeline which leads to the Conference being belated and therefore not approved.
Also, about 98% of the benefiting institutions did not understand the utilization of this intervention and therefore could not access it, while scholars in some of the Institutions on the receipt of funds for their Masters or Ph.D. studies overseas simply misappropriated the funds without going for further studies or, in collaboration with their institutions changed their countries of study without the approval of TETFund.