The Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), Dr. Abdullahi Bichi Baffa, has given reasons why Private institutions across the country could not benefit from the Fund.
This came on the heels of continuous clamour by the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Private Universities.
The Vice-Chancellor, Bells University of Technology, Ota, Professor Oludele Ojediran had recently stated that the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Private Universities would continue to push until private universities in the country also begin to benefit from TETFUND.
But Dr. Baffa, while responding to questions on the issue explained that the Act setting up the Fund specified that only public institutions of higher learning were qualified to benefit from the Fund.
“You call them private and this is public fund. You see, I always explain this, time and again, when you go back to history why TETFUND was established. It was then called ETF. In the early 1990s, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was locked in an industrial dispute with the then military government.
“Later an agreement was reached but the government refused to sign the agreement because the government argued that it was unsure of where it will get the money to implement the agreement. It challenged ASUU to come up with suggestions on how to get funds or else it will introduce tuition fees.
“It was at that material time when suggestions were given to the government and one of such suggestions was for the government to charge education tax which all registered companies operating in Nigeria will pay. The government grabbed the idea and introduced a two percent tax to be paid by all registered companies operating in Nigeria and that was what gave birth to ETF then.
“Now, ETF metamorphosed into TETFUND, it is still the same two percent tax. Now, if you establish Education Tax so that you avoid introducing tuition fee and private schools are charging tuition, will you give them education tax again? That is multiple jeopardies. This is why by the original intent, any tuition fee charging institution is automatically excluded from benefitting from intervention funds from TETFUND.
“I have been accused of using logic to exclude some institutions but the bottom line is, the act establishing TETFUND stated that the beneficiary institutions are public universities, public polytechnics, public colleges of education. I used to tell people that our Act has provided us with a list and any institution that is not on that list is excluded because we are told by our Act that public tertiary institutions that is a list.
“So a university, polytechnic and college of education that is owned by federal, state government or even local government are the institutions on our list. Any other institutions outside these are not qualified to benefit from the intervention.”