The Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Dr. Abdullahi Baffa, has kicked against moves to compel it to support privately owned universities in the country.
Baffa in a presentation to the comrade Aminu Sulaiman led House of Representatives committee on higher education explained that adding teaching hospitals and colleges of agriculture to the list of beneficiaries of the fund is antithetical to ongoing quest to uplift the standard of tertiary education in the country.
He maintained that including private universities as beneficiaries of TETFund would be most unfair since private individuals who owned most of the institutions were already charging pupils exorbitant fees with a view to making profit.
Expressing concern that Nigerian universities are lagging behind those of some African countries like South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, he argued there was no need putting a clog in the wheels of the progress so far recorded by TETFund in terms of infrastructure and capacity building in the universities in recent years.
He enjoined the National Assembly and relevant stakeholders to explore ways of enhancing budgetary funding to the education sector by all levels of government to be in line with the 26 per cent of national budgets as recommended by UNESCO in view of the fact that TETFund by its conception is an interventionist agency for the tertiary education sector.
He disclosed that as at December 2017, a total of 19,155 academic staff have been sponsored for Masters and Ph.D’s in local and foreign institutions from 2010 to 2017 adding this include 6,505 for universities, 5,525 for polytechnics and 7,125 for colleges of education, among which 9,369 are Ph.D holders.
He further stated that the number of academic staff that attended local and foreign conferences from 2010 – 2017 stood at 47,314, this include 18,103 for universities, 11,751 for polytechnics and 17,460 for colleges of education.
He said his outfit also disbursed N17.07 billion for Library Development Intervention, N4.468 billion for Institution Based Research (IBR), N1.017 billion for Academic Manuscript Development (AMD) and N1.3 billion for Academic Research Journals Intervention (ARJI) within the period under review.
President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, who spoke in the same vein at the hearing, opposed the inclusion of Federal Government owned teaching hospital into TETFund on the premise that the National Assembly has already made budgetary provisions to the sector.
Said he: “The Inclusion of Federal Teaching Hospital will make the intervention of TETFund ineffective. The impact will be drastically reduced. It will reduce effective beneficiaries of the fund.
“ It could trigger abuse, it will bring about floodgate, we should keep it like that for now. The mandate of teaching hospital fall under Ministry of Health, so the ministry should continue to fund it. Private universities should contribute and not to be collecting from TETFund. They are charging and making profit.”
National coordinator of the Say No Campaign, Comrade Ezenwa Nwagwu, warned against the move saying it could open floodgate for corrupt practices in the educational sector.