President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that Tertiary Education Trust Fund’s special intervention funds given to tertiary institutions across the country be excluded in 2017 due to past abuses.
Abdullahi Baffa, the Executive Secretary, TETFund said this on Monday in Abuja while briefing journalists on the intervention funds approved by the federal government for tertiary institutions.
Mr. Baffa said the government approved N213.4 billion for the schools for 2016. The releases and utilisation of the funds are to be done in 2017.
He said abuses had been so rampant that while the statutory intervention fund given by TETFUND to schools was only N50 billion in 2015, the special intervention fund assigned discretionarily was N200 billion for that year.
“In 2015, over N200 billion was recklessly disbursed as special interventions to some few beneficiary institutions, while N50 billion only was shared among all institutions as normal interventions,” Mr. Baffa said.
Mr. Baffa said the N200 billion was disbursed based on discretion which is against the law which says “all institutions must be treated equal”.
He however said the fund was able to recover N74 billion from the N200 billion disbursed as special intervention fund and that investigation into the disbursement will soon commence.
Mr. Baffa said that was why President Buhari excluded special interventions while approving 2017 intervention budget.
“Special interventions was turned into something else, it was recklessly abused and begging to be saved because the priorities were inverted; it was turned upside down,” Mr. Baffa said.
“We can’t afford to allow those who are entrusted to the business of keeping the fund to be the very ones abusing the fund mercilessly; We thank God it’s not going to be buried under the carpet, we are going to pursue that this recklessness be investigated and that any wrongdoing and any misapplication be brought to book.”
Mr. Baffa added that the allocation of 2015 was the least in the last five to six years because of the abuse.
“The allocation for 2016 is more than three times what was given in 2015 because we did not allow the old way of doing things to continue.
“The magic in our ability to triple what beneficiary institutions were given is simple, while the previous board of the trustees took 80 percent in 2015 and allocated it to special interventions and used only 20 percent for normal intervention, we refuse doing that. We used about 80 percent as normal intervention and the remaining 20 percent as what we have to use to pay the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, what we have to keep in the fund and what we have to keep for high impact interventions we are doing in places.
“We are appreciative of the president who support our opinion, the president has insisted that the culture of special intervention should be reviewed that is why we are not talking about special interventions. We are concentrating on normal intervention and what impact can we make through it. Special interventions should be meant for special cases like new projects, Victims of fire in school.”
Mr. Baffa expressed disgust on how some group of people hijacked special interventions and turned it into trade.
“We are still battling with people who are parading themselves as vendors trying to buy, sell and deal with allocation letters. They now turn special intervention into trade, people running around with allocation letters looking for buyers. We said we are not going to do that. We going to put the institutions first. Our clients are the beneficiary institutions.”