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Senate orders refund of N264b diverted from education fund

By Adamu Abu, Segun Olaniyi and Otei Oham, Abuja
04 November 2016   |   4:33 am
The Senate yesterday ordered the refund of N263,931,254,708.51 billion allegedly diverted from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) by the Federal Government.
National Assembly Complex Abuja.

National Assembly Complex Abuja.

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The Senate yesterday ordered the refund of N263,931,254,708.51 billion allegedly diverted from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) by the Federal Government.

The decision follows a revelation of mismanagement of funds in the education sector between 2011 and 2015 when TETFUND allegedly lent to other government departments, contrary to the law establishing the agency.

The Chairman of the Committee on Education, Senator Barau Jibrin (APC, Kano North) while presenting the report of his panel on the floor of the upper chamber said that contrary to the claim by the former executive secretary that the whole N273,931‚254‚708.51 billion was diverted to meet the expenditure as stated, it was later revealed to the committee by the recently appointed executive secretary that N10 billion out of the N273,931‚254‚708.51 billion was loaned to the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), and that the PTDF had recently refunded the money to TETFUND, leaving a balance of N263‚931,254‚708.51 billion to be refunded by the Federal Government.

Jibrin said that the provision in the TETFUND Act which allows only the president to be the approving authority for this very important agency that always has huge amount of money in its coffers without including the requirements of the National Assembly’s approval in line with the democratic dictate of checks and balances, was in clear violation of Section 82(4) of the Constitution of Nigeria which states that “no moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.”

He noted that the fact that the executive secretary and other members of the board of trustees were all solely appointed by the president and not confirmed by the Senate made them not to have the strength to raise objection or stop the diversion of TETFUND money to other uses.

The committee recommended that in addition to the approval of the president, the approval of the National Assembly should be included in the process of allocation and disbursement of funds belonging to TETFUND.

He noted that the appointments of the executive secretary and chairman and members of the board of trustees of the agency should be made by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

The panel wants the TETFUND Act to be amended to include the two recommendations. It urged the Senate to ensure the refund of all monies borrowed from the Education Tax Account as there were numerous infrastructural projects to be executed in the nation’s tertiary institutions .

Also yesterday, the House of Representatives warned the Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Godwin Emefiele over alleged refusal of the two officials to divulge information on how the N600 billion bailout fund was disbursed.

The House, via its ad hoc committee on the disbursement and use of the bailout fund also berated the Director-General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Abraham Nwankwo for allegedly treating the issue with levity.

The lawmakers also sought investigations into all arm procurements that have been undertaken by the Federal Government.

The action, the lawmakers said was to specifically look into the mandate of the Presidential Committee on Procurement that was inaugurated by the Presidency and Office of National Security Adviser (NSA) in August last year to review the procurements.

The committee, they said, was yet to submit its report after the 104 days that it was given to conclude its findings.

A similar committee, they said however, was empowered by the Office of the NSA two months after the inauguration of the initial one, with similar mandate and had since submitted its report.