N2.5tr Spent On Varsities, Others In 10 Years, Says Fed Govt

•TETFund eyes N500b education tax collection

THE Federal Government has said it spent N2.5 trillion on infrastructure and staff development in public universities, polytechnics and colleges of education in the last 10 years through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).

Chairman of TETFund’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, said this yesterday at the third edition of tax payers’ forum with the theme: TETFund Intervention: Catalyst for Transforming Tertiary Education in Nigeria, in Lagos.

He said the agency had set a target of collecting more than N500 billion education tax by 2023.

The BoT chairman stressed that for this year alone, TETFund budgeted N300 billion for over 226 higher institutions across the country.

He said the agency had budgeted N120 billion to education in 2020, adding that this was increased to N300 billion in 2021.

Ibrahim-Imam urged the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to increase the education tax collection to N500 billion in the next two years.

According to him, more than N30 billon was set aside for academic workers’ training in various institutions across the country.

The TETFund BoT chairman promised to ensure an increase in interventions to beneficiary institutions by 50 per cent in 2022 and 100 per cent in the next two years.

Dignitaries at the meeting included Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Olufemi Hamzat, as well as academics, captains of industries, and other stakeholders.

Sanwo-Olu said funding for the Education sector must be prioritised, adding that TETFund was established to intervene in the ailing university system.

The governor noted that Nigerian universities would have been worse than they are currently without TETFund.

He urged private companies across Nigeria to be consistent in their remittances and charged TETFund to create a Silicon Valley for Nigeria and focus on how to take research to the market.

Ibrahim-Imam told the meeting that in response to the  acute shortage of hostels in universities across the country, TETFund’s BoT had approved the construction of 160,000 additional bed spaces in higher institutions across the country.

Education Minister Adamu Adamu, who was represented by the Pro-Chancellor of University of Benin (UNIBEN), Dr. Sonny Kuku, praised the stakeholders for their contributionsn to tertiary institutions.

He assured them of Federal Government’s determination to transform public tertiary institutions across Nigeria.

TETFund’s Executive Secretary, Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, said the forum was meant to honour and identify individuals and companies that had contributed to education through consistent payment of education tax as well as the development of education and the nation.

He explained that the two per cent education tax is remitted annually by companies through the FIRS to TETFund for allocation and onward disbursement to beneficiary institutions across the country.

Bogoro said the education tax, over the years, had been channeled into different activities and areas in line with the mandate of the fund, as enshrined in its establishment Act.

He said: “Infrastructure has been given special attention in this regard, because of its decay and collapse across public tertiary institutions in Nigeria at the onset.

“A careful observation will reveal that the fund has, between January and December 2020 alone, carried out 16,982 various infrastructure projects across beneficiary institutions.

“Considering the projects carried out since inception, based on annual allocation to institutions over the years, 2011 to 2021, it is estimated that a total of over 152,838 various infrastructure projects have been carried out across various public tertiary institutions.

“These projects include construction of lecture theatres, classrooms, hostels, offices, laboratories, road networks and fencing of institutions in different parts of the country. Tertiary institutions across the country are dotted with TETFund projects which bear the insignia of the fund distinctly inscribed on each project.

“Additionally, we have sponsored over 10,632 lecturers in the local Ph.D. programme, over 9,072 lecturers in the local Master’s degree programme across the country between 2011 and year 2020.

“The fund has also sponsored well over 4,485 lecturers to overseas institutions for Ph.D. programmes and over 3,192 Master’s degree candidates also overseas, across tertiary institutions within the same period.

“The fund has further supported 71,263 lecturers in Federal and state colleges of education under its Teacher Supervision Programme, bringing to a total of 98,644 the number of academic workers across public tertiary institutions that have benefited from the academic staff training and development programme of the fund.”

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