The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) on Thursday said the ongoing strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was unreasonable and needless.
It said it has since 2016 increased funding for tertiary institutions in Nigeria by threefold to enable the institutions become world class in standard and to improve their global ranking.
The executive secretary of the Fund, Dr Abdullahi Baffa, who stated this on Thursday during a sensitisation workshop at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) headquarters in Abuja, noted that TETFund’s commitment to ensuring quality of tertiary education in Nigeria is total.
Baffa said, “Based on the sharing formulae enshrined in section 7(3) of the TETFund Act, the distribution of funds are in the ratio of 2:1:1 as between universities, polytechnics and colleges of education.
“Therefore, for the 2016 interventions, universities received N1.009 billion, Polytechnics N 691.63 million and Colleges of Education N679 million as opposed to universities N337 million, polytechnics N250 million and Colleges of Education N227 million in 2015”.
ASUU had on August 14, 2017 embarked on an industrial action to protest poor wages and infrastructure at the nation’s universities.
Among the issues ASUU raised are funding for the revitalisation of public universities, earned academic allowances, registration of Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company and pension matters, university staff school, fractionalisation and nonpayment of salaries among others.
The TETFund boss, who was represented by the director in his office, Barr Ifiok Ukim, said the idea of increasing allocations was to improve the world ranking of the tertiary institutions.
This, he said, is of deep concern to President Muhammadu Buhari who is determined to reverse the trend.
He added that TETFund will collaborate effectively with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to ensure that there is improvement in education tax collections that are made available to the Fund’s benefiting institutions.
According to Baffa, TETFund recently embarked on an access clinic and project proposal defence by beneficiary institutions, which was aimed at discussing, diagnosing and resolving all the difficulties impeding access to Fund’s interventions.
“It was observed that most of the institutions were not conversant with our guidelines or aware of the existence of some of our intervention lines, thereby leading to poor access to our intervention funds”, he said.
He noted that TETFund has success in its areas of mandate through the provision and improvement of the physical infrastructure in all its 202 benefiting institutions from 2011 to date as its jets litter all the campuses of Nigerian’s public tertiary institutions.
He said, “In 2011, the Fund launched the National Research Fund (NRF) with a seed fund of N3billion to support cutting edge research in areas of critical national need and development. So far, a total of N1.7billion has been accessed by lecturers to finance their research activities.
“TETFund also allocates funds on annual basis to institutions for their Institution-Based Research (IBR) for research projects that are not more than N2 million per project.
“Remarkable progress has been made in the area of academic staff training and development. As at May 207, a total of 17, 482 have been sponsored by TETFund for Masters and Ph.D courses in top ranked universities both in Nigeria and overseas”.
On his part, the Vice Chancellor of NOUN, represented by deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), Professor Victor Adedipe, acknowledged the ignorance of some staff members of NOUN on the guidelines of accessing TETFund’s interventions, just as he appreciated the Fund for the sensitization programme.
“I will not end this remark without appreciating TETFund for all its support so far to NOUN. In fact, this building we are currently is courtesy of TETFund. The university really appreciates and thank you for all the assistance we have received so far”, he said.