TETFund refutes allegation of N7.6bn questionable contracts

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By Ngozi Nwankwo

Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, has denied reports accusing it of awarding N7.6 billion questionable contracts within two months.

The report by an online publication claimed that the questionable contracts amounting to the tune of N7.6 billion were awarded by TETFund, thereby usurping the powers of Mr. President and the Federal Executive Council, FEC and that the Fund acted outside its mandate in carrying out capacity building programmes in its Beneficiary Institutions.

The Fund however considered the publication as totally spurious and misleading and therefore find it necessary to provide background information and clarifications.

Reacting to this, the Fund said the two Projects under reference are not Contracts but are ICT Projects being implemented under a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU arrangement with the following two global academies: Anthology USA; owners of Blackboard Inc. which is a leading global educational technology academy providing Blackboard Ultra Learning Management System; and Edunet Academy, equally a global learning academy providing certification tracks in communication, entrepreneurship and employability skills development.

Explaining further, the Fund said, “These organisations are academies and owners of the intellectual property rights for their different products which does not make them open for competitive biddings in public procurements.

As part of measures to leverage on ICT in the transformation of the Nigerian tertiary educational sub-sector, three specialized Committees were constituted by the Fund as follows: ICT Infrastructure Project Committee headed by Late. Prof. Samuel Edoumiekumo Gowon (former Chairman, Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities), TETFund Advisory Committee on Digital Literacy, Productivity and Emerging Skills headed by Prof. Olagbemiro Jegede (VC Emeritus National Open University of Nigeria, Digitization Project Steering /Coordinating Committee headed by Prof. Yakubu Ochefu (Secretary-General, Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities).

“Based on the above, an ICT roadmap was developed and is being implemented by the Fund in conjunction with Beneficiary Institutions since 2016.

“Relying on the recommendations of the committees which were presented and accepted by all the heads of Beneficiary Institutions at the Fund’s Annual Stakeholders forum, it was agreed that, the sum of N100m be allocated for ICT support intervention for every University, N50m for every Polytechnic and N50m for every College of Education. Of this amount, 50% was to be utilised for Infrastructure and procurement based on the peculiar needs of the institutions, while the balance of 50% was earmarked for the converged services inclusive of educational resource subscriptions, software licenses and specialised capacity development programmes for both academic/non-academic staff as well as students.

“The cost of implementation for Blackboard Learn Ultra is N3, 812,500.00 which translates to N14, 607,279.69 per institution for the Fund’s 261 Beneficiary Institutions. The same applies to the certification in communication, entrepreneurship, and employability skills development project.

“During implementation, the Committee recommended the adoption of a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with the providers to achieve significant discounts based on economies of scale, rather than individual Beneficiary Institutions accessing these facilities at higher costs. To this end, the global President of Anthology USA, owner of the Blackboard technology and international leader in educational technology and Artificial Intelligence led a delegation to Nigeria to sign the MoU”, it added.