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How N722m TETFund grant disappeared overnight

A member of the Sen­ate Committee on Education has af­firmed that the pro­posed audit of the finances of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) will help es­tablish how billions of Naira earmarked to help build strong educational institutions were mismanaged.

In one instance alone, said the senator, a N722 mil­lion grant from TETFund to the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), disappeared.
Acting on a motion by Ka­no-born Senator Jibrin Barau, the Senate had late last week resolved to probe the finances of TETFund in view of what it said was the disappearance of billions of Naira meant for ed­ucation.
TETFund is funded by the monies realized from the deduction of 2 percent of the profit of companies operating in Nigeria.
Justifying the need to probe TETfund, the senator said the fund had over the years become a cash cow to be milked by all to a point where the education sys­tem was on the verge of collapse.
The senator said the commit­tees on education of the Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the Ministry of Education, had been flooded with petitions from worried Nigerians, but that most of the petitions were swept under the carpet.
He, however, commended the present leadership of TET­Fund for “bringing integrity to bear on the organization.”
On the N722 million he claimed disappeared overnight, the lawmaker said TETFund in September 2007 released the sum of N722,500,000 to UBEC “for procurement of additional class­room sitting materials (CKD) for junior secondary schools”. At the time, he explained, the fund was known as Education Trust Fund (ETF).
“On September 7, 2007, the then UBEC Executive Secre­tary, Dr. Ahmed Modibbo Mo­hammed, wrote his counterpart in ETF, Professor Mahmud Ya­koob, a reminder ‘on the release of 85% grant’ which he put at N722,500,000.
Mohammed’s reminder came on the heels of an earlier letter by his predecessor, Dr. Lami Amodu, to ETF dated August 14, 2007,” said the senator.
He pointed out that, aside audit documents obtained from ETF, UBEC on Friday, August 22, 2008 ran full page advertorials in THISDAY and Daily Trust news­papers wherein it confirmed that it had received funding from ETF and proposed to use the money to produce school tables and chairs.
According to a copy of the advertorial, UBEC disclosed that it “has received financial support from the Education Tax Fund (ETF) and intends to apply the proceeds for the procurement of high grade, impact resistant co­polymer resin tables and chairs for the basic education sub-sec­tor.”
The advertorial, which was signed by UBEC’s Head of Pro­curement, Mr. Benjamin Smart, invited “eligible manufacturers to apply for pre-qualification,” not­ing that “the plastic chairs and desks are to be delivered to SUB­EBs in 36 states of the federation and FCT.”
The senator said some UBEC and ETC officials (names with­held) rode on the back of a le­gal dispute between UBEC and an American firm that produced the first set of desks and chairs to share the N722,500,000 with certain officials in the Presiden­cy and Federal Ministry of Edu­cation.
Tasked to supply proof, the lawmaker quizzed, “When mat­ters got to a head in court, the then ETF Executive Secretary, apparently to shield some peo­ple, deposed to an affidavit that the money was still in ETF custo­dy. This was in 2012 or so (I have the documents) that is, over four years after the money was paid into UBEC account”.
“When Justice Abbul Kafar­ati ordered TETFund to deposit the money in the account of the Federal High Court for safekeep­ing, what happened? After ini­tially agreeing to pay the money, which even the court knew had disappeared, TETFund rushed to appeal the ruling.”
“What happened after the appeal was dismissed? Did TET­fund pay into the court’s account? No! The same persons who en­tangled themselves with the miss­ing money have today been com­pensated with higher offices,” he lamented, stressing, “this is why it is important for Nigerians to know the truth about what hap­pened to their money.”
Attempts to get reactions from Prof. Mahmud Yakoob and Dr. Modibbo Mohammed were unsuccessful as several calls put to their mobile telephone lines were not answered. Both also did not respond to text messages.
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