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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Agenda For TETfund, As The “Cat With Nine Lives” Suleiman Bogoro Returns – By Emeka Oraetoka



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To many Nigerians, the second coming of Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro as the executive secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund), was not only surprising, but amassing, having been removed from the same post barely three years ago. When government announced the recall of Bogoro to his duty post on January 21, 2019, many thought there was mix-up in the announcement, but later, the news of his reinstatement was seen to be cogent and verifiable.

The Bauchi state born Professor was first appointed as executive secretary of TETfund in April 2014 by the administration of Goodluck Jonathan. He was relieved of his appointment by the current administration in February 2016, not because of incompetence. Watchers of event at TETfund believed his removal had something to do with local politics in his home state. Information has it that some elements within the ruling party in his state believed that since he was appointed by opposition party, he may be loyal to the party that gave him job at the expense of the ruling party. But his critics probably forgot that he is a professional tasked with responsibility of repositioning TETfund which he was doing and excellently too, before the unfortunate removal.

His traducers clearly forgot that Dr Akinwumi Adeshina, the former minister of Agriculture under Jonathan’s administration, was reappointed by the current government to head African Development Bank (ADB). Adeshina’s re-appointment was based on merit and not party affiliation. It is generally believed that government might have done thorough investigation and audit of Bogoro’s first term stewardship at the agency and discovered that his removal was done in error, hence his recall.

Now that Professor Bogoro is back at TETfund to continue from where he stopped, Nigerians expect him to perform even better than his first outing at the agency. Good enough, the act establishing the agency specified the function of the agency and so, it is expected that Bogoro’s second term in TETfund will herald a digital deployment of the agency to tackle the problems bedeviling Nigerian tertiary institution from the point of view of its mandate. It is imperative to remind Professor Bogoro that Nigerians place high premium on his second outing at TETfund as conveyed by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, when he urged him (Bogoro), to utilize the opportunity to re-focus the Fund and render its performance more responsive to the expectations of the current administration.

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One important area of attention is the urgent need for establishment of Smart Tertiary Institution Environment (STIE) to permanently tackle the problem of Low Carrying Capacity (LCC), in our institution of higher learning, which experts have identified as serious factor responsible for low intake of students in Nigerian university arising from Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examination in the country. There is no doubt that a smart university environment, for instance, can successfully admit up to two hundred thousand (200,000) students in one fell swoop. A situation where only about two hundred thousand (200,000) are admitted into our tertiary institutions out of more than two million students that sit for JAMB examination on yearly basis is not only embarrassing, but a shame to the nation.

The low carrying capacity of our tertiary institutions which in part, is responsible for JAMB systematic pegging of students to be admitted into our tertiary institution, via dubious cut off mark, has brought untold frustration to our youths as a result of not gaining admission. It is even safe to say that there is a direct correlation between JAMB induced frustration and crimes like kidnapping, armed robbery, drug addiction etc. There is the tendency for instance, for a student that was denied university admission, five times to take to drug out frustration. He can as well join kidnapping or robbery gang.

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Professor Suleiman Bogoro should use the opportunity of his second coming to TETfund, to begin the process of solving the chronic problem of low carrying capacity in our tertiary institutions of learning, through systematic application of the Fund’s mandate.  He should look at the act establishing TETfund to ascertain the best way to approach to this time bomb. To this end, the involvement of stakeholders in the education sector becomes imperative. If the mandate of the agency does not include establishment of Smart Tertiary Institution Environment (STIE) he should begin the process of amending the act establishing TETfund via executive bill to the national assembly.

An intellectual, it is expected that Professor Bogoro will confront the monster, low carrying capacity that has made JAMB look like an establishment with mandate to generate revenue for government only. Analysts have reasoned that every year, more than 1.5 million students that sit for JAMB are not admitted  into our tertiary institutions on the excuse that they did not meet the cut-off mark; whereas, the main issue is LCC in our tertiary institutions.

It will be fantastic if Bogoro starts this project of STIE in six (6) federal universities in the 6 geo-political zones of Nigeria. By this, Nigerians will be sure that at least, 800,000 out of perennial 2.5 million students that sit for JAMB will secure university admission. Progressively, polytechnics and colleges of education may follow suit. The good news about STIE is that it could be self financing. Once a smart school lecture hall is built, all what a student needs is a laptop to attend lecture within the school environment. And the cost of providing the smart environment and maintenance is affordable. It is also self financing, as token that will paid by students for internet data will just be enough to keep the smart environment going.

Emeka Oraetoka

Information Management Consultant and Researcher.

Wrote in from Abuja


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