Since its establishment eight years ago, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has disbursed hundreds of billions of naira to government-owned schools to train teachers and address infrastructural deficits. Kunle ADEBAJO paid visits to three federal universities in Northwest Nigeria — Ahmadu Bello University, Federal University Dutsin-Ma, and Federal University Dutse to see how they use the funds. This is the first of the two-part report.
The Federal University, Dutsin-Ma (FUDMA) in Katsina State owes a lot to Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) — including its capacity to operate at all. This much is obvious from a casual tour of its two campuses. The stamp of TETFund is on every major structure – from the senate building to the library, health centre, lecture theatres and office blocks at the take-off campus. And at the permanent site, about 23 kilometres away, one is welcomed by a long line-up of TETFund contract signposts at the main entrance.
In order to address nagging issues of inadequate funding to the country’s tertiary education system, TETFund was established in 2011 to intervene by providing resources for infrastructural development and staff capacity building. The fund is drawn from a two per cent education tax levied on companies registered in Nigeria, and is distributed annually to universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education.
As of 2018, the amount of tax paid by companies to the Fund was N1.659 trillion, and according to education minister Adamu Adamu N727 billion was allocated to the agency between 2015 and early 2019. Information obtained by The ICIR through a Freedom of Information request indicates that a total of N337 billion has been disbursed by TETFund to federal and state universities between 2011 and 2018.
Upon its founding in 2011, FUDMA, alongside eight other federal universities, received a take-off grant of N1.5 billion from the Education Trust Fund.
In March, tertiary institutions owned by the federal government submitted their budget performance reports covering the period between 2015 and 2018 to the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFund. Documents from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), the Federal University, Dutse (FUD), and FUDMA—the focus of this report, were however not too helpful in shedding light on ongoing and completed TETFund projects.
ABU listed 20 ongoing construction and rehabilitation projects with completion rates ranging from zero to 80 per cent. There are also 24 consultancy projects about which the university disclosed much less information. Half of the contractors were, for instance, not named. Nine of the projects did not have their estimated costs written. Nine did not have the project titles written, and in two cases the only information available is that the consultancy projects were sponsored by TETFund.
For all 24 projects, the university did not state the contractors’ addresses, commencement dates, completion dates, amounts allocated, and the total amount spent from inception.
FUDMA’s report, highlighting projects implemented under 2014 to 2016 Merged TETFund Intervention, does not state the amount released so far and the level of completion. A lot of the project descriptions are also elusive: 150 Seat Capacity Lecture Theatre, Block of Classrooms and Offices, Furnishing of Laboratories, “Construction of Laboratories for”, “Supply of Equipment for” etc. Phrased like this, it makes them almost impossible to be tracked.
A similar challenge is faced with FUD, with the school’s report listing such vague projects as Construction and Furnishing of Twin Lecture Theatre, Supply and Installation of 309 No. of Various Equipment, Supply of 2 No. Colour Sharp Photocopier, Procurement of Assorted Textbooks and Journals, and so on.
None of the three universities has granted Freedom of Information (FoI) requests for details of TETFund projects approved since 2011, and only ABU and FUD have acknowledged receipt.
“The University is compiling these projects as part of our yearly activity and will be publishing the projects’ details as soon as possible,” ABU’s TETFund Desk Officer, Bashir Garba Ibrahim, wrote in an email to The ICIR in October. He assured that “a hard copy and soft copy will be provided to your organisation” but, months later, this has not been done despite multiple reminders.
In a letter dated December 17, seven working days after the FoI request got to the school, FUD’s legal officer, Mahmoud Bello, said due to the nature of the records requested, they are requesting for five additional weeks in order to “verify whether the documents/records exist or not”.
This request, however, violates the Freedom of Information Act which makes room only for an extension “not exceeding seven (7) days” if the records are enormous or consultations are necessary to grant the request.
As The ICIR would later discover during visits paid in October to ABU and FUDMA, and in December to FUD, it is not only the universities’ reports to the National Assembly that could be easily faulted. There are also question marks hovering over the physical projects themselves.
READ THE FULL REPORT HERE: