By Gift Samuel, The Sight News
The Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta is set to commence draw down of over N2billion allocation from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) intervention.
This is even as the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Dr. Abdullahi Baffa commissioned multiple projects sponsored by the Fund for the use of the university so as to continue supporting it to become a world class agricultural training institution, the Director, Corporate Affairs and Public Relations, Benn Ebikwo said in a statement on Friday.
Ebikwo noted that the commissioned projects are 1,000-Seater Capacity Lecture Theatre and Furniture fittings with other equipment, Science Laboratories and Furniture fittings for: 250-Seater Biology Laboratory; 250-Seater Chemistry Laboratory; 250-Seater Physics Laboratory; and Office Complex for the Laboratories, and Entrepreneurship Building and Furniture fittings.
Speaking while commissioning the projects as part of the 30th Anniversary of the University, the TETFund Executive Secretary who expressed delight for coming to the agricultural based university lamented that unlike other institutions that are craving for more funding from TETFund, the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta has been lagging behind due to their inability to access over N2billion already allocated to them since 2013.
Dr. Baffa traced the issue behind the inability of the university to come forward and draw down on monies meant for them from TETFund to years of long bickering and internal crisis which he said, the current management is doing everything to avoid a repeat.
According to him, “I have been to this campus several times in the past to hold meetings or solve one problem or the other. I must say the university is doing well but one hitch that has been hindering the springing up of more TETFund projects on this campus perhaps is the crisis that engulfed the university for so many years, and that crisis became a huge impediment on the ability of the university to draw down on the allocation given to it by TETFund.
“At the moment, over N2billion worth of allocation to the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta is lying there at the Fund, waiting for the university to come and access. When you have over N2billion to draw down, if you come and ask for special intervention for anything we will ask what is wrong with you? What is going to happen to that amount of money? So we have been discussing with the Vice Chancellor and he has promised after extensive discussions on how to overcome the problem and we even agreed on timeline.
“So we were very encouraged and happy when the Vice Chancellor called and said those Years 2011 and 2012 projects which TETFund had released money for will be completed and ready for commissioning because completing those projects was the only action that would enable FUNNAB to access and draw the over N2billion lying at TETFund because we operate Performance Index Disbursement (PID).
“When you perform, you draw down, when you under perform we freeze your allocation until we are convinced that you are able to perform. So with this commissioning we are happy to say that the Vice Chancellor has started performing, we will start also to disburse and the university will start to build new projects, commission new and bigger projects” he added.
In his own remark, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Felix Kolawole Salako who was full of praise for TETFund interventions in all tertiary institutions, pointed out the latest special intervention area for Student Dignity.
Prof. Salako explained that the TETFund Executive Secretary had held discussions with him that while universities will continue to get more and bigger interventions, the area of Student Dignity which include provision of good and functional lavatories must be looked into because “we will not want to see students going to their hostels during lectures to use their toilets, lecturers having to go out of the lecture venues to go to toilets.
“For this, TETFund has given us N120million to provide these facilities. I want to assure management of TETFund that no kobo given to us will be misused, because even the Council will not allow it because they want to leave a legacy behind and we want to make sure that the past problems that kept us from performing how fast as TETFund would want is a thing of the past”.
Also speaking, the Chancellor of the university, Obong of Calabar, His Royal Majesty, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi promised TETFund management that with the calibre of persons that make up the Governing Council of the University presently, peace will reign in the institution and nothing will impede projects and accessing of allocations from TETFund, but rather requested for more intervention to help the university grow rapidly.
The Pro-Chancellor, Dr. Aboki Zhawa in his remarks lamented the inability of the university to access allocations from TETFund, pointing out that sadly, it is only in Nigeria that institutions are begged to come and access money for development and growth.
He promised that with the current leadership under Prof. Felix Salako, the support of the Chancellor and Governing Council, TETFund would have no cause to regret giving more to the University, adding however, that the institution is not only geared towards drawing down the over N2billion already allocated to it but will soon come for more interventions.
The TETFund team for the commissioning exercise led by the Executive Secretary include the Director, Corporate Affairs and Public Relations, Mr. Benn Ebikwo, Director Monitoring and Evaluation, Mal. Umar Mari, Ag. Head of Project Management Department, Mal. Buhari Mikailu, Personal Assistants to the Executive Secretary, Mr. Alaneme Erasmus, Mallam Mohammed Kaamil Ali-Jos, Alh. Umar Gwadabe and other staff of the Fund.