Senate uncovers fresh corruption in TETFund, moves to amend Establishment Act
The Senate yesterday ordered the refund of N263,931,254,708.51 diverted from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND, by the federal government.
The Senate took the decision following reports of gross mismanagement in the education sector between 2011 and 2015, where the agency was involved in a borrowing spree to other governments departments contrary to the Act establishing it.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Barau Jibrin (APC, Kano North), while presenting the report of his committee on the floor of the Senate, said the committee found out long after the conclusion of its investigations that contrary to the assertion by the former executive secretary that the whole N273,931‚254‚708.51 was diverted to meet the expenditure as stated, it was later revealed to the committee by the recently appointed executive secretary that N10billion out of the N273,931‚254‚708.51 was loaned to the PTDF, which it had recently refunded to TETFUND leaving a balance of N263‚931,254‚708.51 to be refunded by the federal government.
Jibrin explained that the loophole in TETFUND Act which allowed only the president to be the approving authority for this very important agency that always has huge amount of money in its coffers without including the requirements of the National Assembly’s approval, in line with the democratic dictate of checks and balances. This he said was in clear violation of Section 82 (4) of the Constitution of Nigeria which states that “no moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any public fund of the federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly” and noted that the fact that the executive secretary and members of the Board of Trustees were all solely appointed by the president and not confirmed by the Senate made them not to have the strength to raise objection or to nip in the bud the diversion of TETFUND’s money to other uses.
However, the committee recommended that in addition to the approval of Mr. President, the approval of the National Assembly should be included in the process of allocation and disbursement of funds belonging to the fund and noted that appointments of the executive secretary, chairman and members of the Board of Trustees of TETFUND should be made by the president and confirmed by the Senate, stressing that the TETFUND Act be amended to include (a) and (b) above; and that Senate should work to ensure the refund of all monies borrowed from the Education Tax Account as there were numerous infrastructural projects to be executed in the tertiary institutions around the country.
On his part, Senator Solomon Adeola (APC Lagos West), while recalling his experiences as former chairman of House Committee on Public Accounts, corroborated that there was huge mismanagement of resources by TETFUND. Adeola suggested that the Senate must amend the Act setting up the agency in a manner that it would approve funds before expending to avoid potholes in future.
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