By Faizat Adeboye
The Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos; Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, FAS has called for a decentralization of the activities of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) through the establishment of zonal and state offices.
The Vice-Chancellor who was the Guest speaker at the Third edition of TETFUND Tax Payers’ Forum, held in Lagos, affirmed that, if well handled, such decentralization will improve access to TETFund intervention programmes, ease administration and eliminate some of the bureaucratic bottlenecks currently being experienced in some quarters.
Professor Ogundipe who spoke on the theme, “TETFund Intervention: Catalyst for Transforming Tertiary Education in Nigeria,” premised his position on the innumerable challenges plaguing access to TETFund interventions across tertiary institutions.
While stressing the need for stakeholders to organize strategies for granting tax holidays as obtainable in other countries, he decried what he called discrepancies in remittance figures between the Federal Inland Revenue (FIRS) and field officers, Nigeria’s over-reliance on oil revenue and tax evasion by some corporate organizations.
The Vice-Chancellor also reeled out some of the projects and interventions which the University of Lagos benefitted from, courtesy of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) especially in infrastructure, capacity building and various research grants, feats which he said has helped to improve UNILAG’s ratings over the years.
Pro-Chancellor, University of Benin and former National President, UNILAG Alumni Association, Dr. Sonny Kuku, represented the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, at the event. He alongside the Chairman, TETFund Board of Trustees, Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim-Imam appreciated the taxpayers for their spirit of nationalism and commitment to their civic duty. These, they said, aid the TETFund in meeting its statutory obligations.
They challenged all major companies in Nigeria to support President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision in increasing education budget by 50% in the next 2 years.
The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by his Deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, adjudged TETFund a child of necessity, one borne out of the need to prioritize funding for tertiary institutions.
Earlier while welcoming participants to the forum, the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro used the avenue to present TETFund’s scorecard to include successful execution of over 150,000 (One hundred and fifty thousand) capital projects, sponsorship of over 200,000 (over two hundred thousand) academic and non-academic staff across tertiary institutions to both local and foreign trainings and conferences, as well as the procurement of hundreds of thousands of e-resources, equipment and furniture for distribution to different tertiary institutions across Nigeria.
While commending President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, for ensuring a substantial increase in the budgetary allocation for the National Research Fund, Prof. Bogoro assured that establishment of Centres of Excellence as well as the promotion of research and innovation remains the priority of TETFund.
There were goodwill messages by Mr. Kabir Abara, who represented the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Mr. Muhammad Nami, representatives of the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFund, Executive Secretary of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and TETFund beneficiary institutions. They were all full of gratitude to TETFund for changing the face of public institutions in Nigeria through its many infrastructural projects and facility upgrades.
They also solicited further collaboration especially in the areas of curriculum development.