TET Fund transparency is visible even to the blind

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Arc. Sonny Echono

Admirers and critics of the Arc. Sonny Echono-led Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETF) are unanimous about the fact that the interventionist agency under his dynamic leadership has shown beyond reasonable doubt that its pro-people projects have impacted the nooks and crannies of public tertiary institutions in the country. It is therefore not a surprise that the clamour for the inclusion of private universities in TETFund interventions has continued to gather momentum in recent times.

These sustained and visible interventions were the reason an attempt to smear the reputation of Echono could not sway the minds of millions of Nigerians who have been impacted by the Fund since he assumed office. The misleading report in an online medium published on Monday, April 15, titled, “The Insider: How TETFund Awarded N7.6 billion Questionable Contracts Within Two Months”, has therefore been described as baseless and an attempt at distracting the Fund. The false publication had accused TETFund management of usurping the powers of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Federal Executive Council (FEC); and that the Fund acted outside its mandate in carrying out capacity building programmes in its beneficiary institutions.

In a swift reaction, Echono described the report as misleading and baseless. Speaking through the Acting Director, Public Affairs, Abdulmumin Oniyangi, Echono explained that the two projects under reference were not contracts but Information Communication Technology (ICT) projects being implemented under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) arrangement with Anthology USA, owners of Blackboard Inc., a leading global educational technology academy providing Blackboard Ultra Learning Management System; and Edunet Academy, a global learning academy providing certification tracks in communication, entrepreneurship and employability skills development. These organisations, he said, are academies and owners of the intellectual property rights for their different products, which do not make them open for competitive biddings in public procurements. The Executive Secretary noted that as part of the measures to leverage ICT in the transformation of Nigerian tertiary educational sub-sector, three specialised committees were constituted by the Fund which include the ICT Infrastructure Project Committee headed by late Prof. Samuel Edoumiekumo Gowon (former Chairman, Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities); Advisory Committee on Digital Literacy, Productivity and Emerging Skills headed by Prof. Olagbemiro Jegede (VC Emeritus, National Open University of Nigeria) and Digitisation Project Steering/Coordinating Committee headed by Prof. Yakubu Ochefu (Secretary-General, Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities).

Prof. Olagbemiro Jegede


He also noted that based on the above, an ICT roadmap was developed and it is being implemented by the Fund in conjunction with beneficiary institutions since 2016. Echono further explained that relying on the recommendations of the committees that were presented and accepted by all the heads of institutions at the Fund’s Annual Stakeholders forum, it was agreed that the sum of N100 million be allocated for ICT support intervention for every university, N50 million for every polytechnic and N50 million for every College of Education. “Of this amount, 50 per cent was to be utilised for infrastructure and procurement based on the peculiar needs of the institutions while the balance of 50 per cent was earmarked for the converged services inclusive of educational resource subscriptions, software licences and specialised capacity development programmes for both academic and non-academic staff as well as students. “The cost of implementation for Blackboard Learn Ultra is N3,812,500.00, which translates to N14,607,279.69 per institution for the Fund’s 261 beneficiary institutions. The same applies to the certification in communication, entrepreneurship and employability skills development projects.

“During implementation, the committee recommended the adoption of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the providers to achieve significant discounts based on economies of scale, rather than individual beneficiary institutions accessing these facilities at higher costs. “To this end, the global President of Anthology USA, owner of the Blackboard technology and international leader in educational technology and Artificial Intelligence led a delegation to Nigeria to sign the MoU. “Similarly, Prof. Klauss, who is a renowned global education resource provider and the intellectual property rights owner of Edunet Solutions Academy, led his team to Nigeria to execute the MoU for its academy. “It is pertinent to note that Blackboard technology is used by over 4,000 tertiary institutions globally and during the visit of its President to the Honourable Minister of Education, he remarked that Nigeria was already late in its adoption of Blackboard given that Saudi Arabia adopted Blackboard 10 years ago and this has led to its remarkable success in improving education.

Lucky Emonefe


“Therefore, it is instructive to state that the partnership with the two academies to execute the ICT roadmap of the Fund, endorsed by beneficiary institutions, was not carried out as contracts. Rather, beneficiary institutions’ ICT needs were aggregated for bulk negotiation to take advantage of economies. With this, 60 per cent cost saving was achieved,” he said. The statement also reiterated that TETFund had in the past, through similar MoUs, engaged with other notable institutions and platforms worldwide such as the International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL), Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and a host of others. Through the same mechanism in the earlier stage of the ICT roadmap, the Fund recorded success in building capacity for over 20,000 teaching and nonteaching staff of its beneficiary institutions using the ICDL productivity skills certification track for the intervention years 2016 to 2022.

It added that this was acknowledged at the Innovate African Conference 2024 held at Harvard Graduate School of Education in the United States recently and during a courtesy visit to the TETFund management by the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), where NANS President, Lucky Emonefe, applauded the Echono-led Fund for transparency and open door policy. “We are not going to relent. We are going to complement your efforts to ensure that these gigantic projects that TETFund is ensuring in our tertiary institutions are sustained. On our part, we are going to monitor, supervise and protect education infrastructure to complement what Mr. President and TETFund are doing,” Emonefe said.

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