‘Amend TETFund Act now,’ ASURI tells National Assembly
Reps explain stoppage of COEs from accessing grants from agency
Lecturers under the aegis of Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI), Monday, stormed the National Assembly Complex in Abuja, to press for the inclusion of colleges of agriculture and other research institutions in the pool of beneficiaries of research funds from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).
The lecturers who carried placards with various inscriptions lamented that all the colleges of agriculture and research institutions in the country combined have not received the budgetary capital allocation that a single university or polytechnic receives from the interventionist agency in a year.
Some of the placards read, “Universities are saturated with TETFund while colleges of agriculture are dying,” “TETFund act now,” “To change Nigeria, fund research now,” “No research fund, no development, no future,” “Amend TETFund Act now,” and “70% of Nigerians are farmers yet colleges of agriculture are denied funding.”
Speaking on behalf of the lecturers, the union’s secretary general, Dr. Theophilus Ndubuaku, said the union was in support of the moves by the House of Representatives to amend the TETFund Act to ensure that colleges of agriculture benefit from the fund.
He lamented that whereas TETFund was established specifically for the rehabilitation, restoration and consolidation of tertiary education in the country, colleges of agriculture were unfortunately not included among tertiary institutions that the agency was supposed to fund.
Ndubuaku stated that whereas the lecturers were not against the funding of tertiary institutions, they strongly feel that justice can only be seen to be done, if resources were equitably distributed.
He expressed disappointment that former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration could not make good its promise to run the economy based on science and technology, just like the other governments before it.
He said, “It is apt to mention that for now, most of the technologies generated in research institutes are largely funded by the researchers with their personal resources because if they do not conduct research, publish and sponsor their training for higher degrees, they will stagnate and perish. In other words, they will not receive promotion. Given this scenario, research institute-based researchers are compelled to use their personal resources to conduct research and publish them
He continued, “Nigeria is endowed with an array of research and development infrastructure that cover almost all sectors of human endeavour. It is an indisputable statement of fact that the reason why Nigeria has remained under-developed is because past leaders have not had the political will to adequately fund the many research and development institutions
“We implore the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), as a major stakeholder in nation building not to denigrate the complementary roles of other institutions in the educational sector, especially the research institutions and colleges of agriculture where the academic staff are holders of higher research degrees that are equivalent to those of the universities.”
So, “Our message to the House of Representatives is to include research institutions and colleges of agriculture in funding by TETFund, otherwise the diversification programme of this government will be defeated.
However, the House of Representatives same day offered an insight into why it would not allow privately owned colleges of education to access funding from TETFund.
Chairman of the House Committee on Tertiary Institutions, Mr. Aminu Sulaiman who spoke during a public hearing on the proposed amendment to the TETFUND Act of 2011, justified the position saying there was no way public funds would be invested in privately owned ventures.
Said he: “There is no way we can allow the Federal Government to spend public funds on private institutions, unless until such a time when a law is made as to give conditional grants to such private entities. They are private business ventures owned by private individuals and should not be funded by government.”
TETFund’s acting Executive Secretary, Mallam Aliyu Na’Iya, in his remarks added that: “The existing Act should be allowed to exist as it is. If amended, it will result in eroding the intervention function and impact of the fund.”
Stating that there is no tertiary institution with any case of abandoned TETFund projects, he asserted that intervention projects so far embarked upon by the agency in various tertiary institutions have yielded the desired improvement in advancing the frontiers of knowledge.