Senate Seeks to Share Control of TETFUND with Executive

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•Moves to amend Act, alleges diversion of N263bn
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Senate yesterday resolved to amend TETFund Act in a way that will assign it some roles in the operations of the agency. The current Act makes control of the agency including appointments of officials the exclusive preserve of the executive.

The new amendment seeks to subject the appointments of managers of the agency to Senate confirmation as it alleged the diversion of funds generated from education tax for the rehabilitation of tertiary institutions by the immediate past administration to other uses.

The allegation was the fallout of the adoption of the report of the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and Tertiary Education Tax Fund (TETFUND) which had been mandated to investigate the alleged mismanagement of N1 trillion allocated to the agency since 2011.

The committee reported that whereas the agency received the sum of N507‚090 billion as against the allegation of almost N1 trillion between 2011 and 2015,  the allocation for 2013 “was not remitted to TETFUND but was diverted.”

According to the committee chairman, Senator Barau Jibril, a sum of N273‚931 meant for TETFund project account in 2014, was diverted to other uses such as payment of allowances of lecturers by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. It further said N10 billion of the sum was lent to Petroleum Tax Development Fund (PTDF) which it said had been refunded.

The committee alleged that diversion of the funds were possible because the TETFUND Act gives vested control of the agency and disbursement of funds to only the executive without reflecting the principles of checks and balances.

The Senate therefore approved the committee’s recommendation that “in addition to the approval of Mr. President, the approval of National Assembly should be included in the process of allocation and disbursement of funds belonging to Tetfund.”

It also resolved that “The appointments of the Executive Secretary and that of the Chairman and members of the Board of Trustees of TETFUND should be made by Mr. President and confirmed by the Senate.”
The Senate agreed to amend TETFund Act with a view to assigning roles to the National Assembly in the operations of the fund, adding that “the Senate should work to ensure the refund of all monies borrowed from the Education Tax Account as there are numerous infrastructural projects to be executed in our tertiary institutions around the country.”