From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
State–owned tertiary institutions drawing funds from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) have been given three weeks ultimatum to provide information on usage of allocations over the years.
Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Tertiary Education and Services, Aminu Suleiman, announced the ultimatum when he led other members of the committee on oversight function to TETFund headquarters in Abuja, yesterday.
He said the lawmakers have taken enough of disregard/disrespect from the affected institutions, and would be compelled to take unfriendly actions against the institutions at the end of the three weeks grace period.
He also threatened that TETFund might have a taste of the unfriendly actions if it failed to prevail on the state-owned institutions to appear before the committee with relevant information regarding their usage of the funds drawn from TETFund over the years.
Suleiman said: “We have written to TETFund three to four times now requesting that they invite these state-owned institutions benefitting from TETFund interventions to send to the committee, statement of operations as they relate to funds they have been getting from TETFund.
“We don’t know if you have done that, or that the institutions refused to do what we requested, perhaps, thinking they are state-owned institutions, hence they are not accountable to us. We have given them enough time, and would be forced to direct TETFund to quit allocating funds to them soon.
“They cannot collect public funds and refuse to account for it. If they think they cannot account for the funds because they are state-owned institutions, then they should return to their states government for funding, which is the right thing they are supposed to do.
“TETFund was supposed to be assisting, but we have a situation where every governor now set up institution and refer them to TETFund for funding, and only care to pay salaries. We are hereby giving all the state-owned institutions three weeks to comply with our request, and if they refuse to comply, we would take actions that would be unfavourable to them.”
TETFund Executive Secretary, Sonny Echono, in his remarks, appreciated the support and collaborations so far received from the lawmakers, urging them to increase the support to the president as he prepares to up the education tax to three per cent from 2.5 per cent.
He said: “From 2017 up to 2020, we witnessed a steady rise in the collection of education tax. Regrettably, there was a sharp drop in the revenue collected in 2021. From N154 billion we collected in 2017 to N257 billion that was realised in 2020. Unfortunately, it dropped in 2021 to N189 billion indicating a N60 billion drop in revenue.
“Last year, the tax rate was increased from 2 to 2.5 per cent. But the target is that before the end of this administration, it will get to three per cent. That’s the commitment that the president gave to the global community on funding of education in Nigeria, and we would need National Assembly’s support for the president to achieve that.”