TETFund: 23 Centres of Excellence established on wrong foundation — Tomori

THE chairman of the Committee on the Assessment/Review of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) Centres of Excellence, Professor Oyewale Tomori, has said that the establishment of 23 Centres of Excellence established by TETFund in some tertiary institutions in Nigeria was wrong.

His committee, therefore, advised the Federal Government not to spend more money on upgrading the centres until the faulty foundation is corrected.

Tomori who is the chairman of the TETFund’s ad hoc committee on Assessment/Review of TETFund Centres of Excellence, spoke while submitting the report of his committee to the Minister of Education, Professor Tahir Mamman in Abuja.

The Minister also received a report of the Advisory Committee on Operationalisation of TETFund Skills Development Special Intervention, from the chairman of the committee, Dr Nuru Yakubu.

The committee discovered from its findings that while some of the Centres of Excellence established about eight years ago by TETFund are doing extremely well, a good number of them has performed poorly.The report noted that most of the centres did not utilise their first seed grant of N150 million for the initial infrastructures required in the centres, and advised TETFund to provide some bailout funds to the centres to enable their proper take-off.

The committee also called on the fund to ensure that all funds for the all Centres of Excellence are disbursed directly to the Centre’s account.

“If the centres are to achieve the set objectives, TETFund in collaboration with institutions hosting the centres should ensure that the centre directors are on full time assignment at the centre.

“All the centres that are not performing well should be given a six-month moratorium as a way to prevail on them to refocus and achieve their true mandate after which a revisit will be conducted to determine their status and continue funding them,” the committee recommended.

While stressing that the centres were set up on a wrong foundation, Tomori said: “When you want to set up such Centres of Excellence in the future, there should be guidelines and people should apply for them rather them dish them out as they were was shared on the basis of geopolitical zones.”

Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Professor Tahir Mamman, in his remark after receiving the two reports, said the government would defund any non-performing Centre of Excellence. Mamman said that the government will not continue to reward indolence by funding to institutions that are not doing what they are supposed to do.

He explained further that “the government is encouraging our scholars to simply rise to the occasion and deliver on their scholarship by doing what world class scholars are doing. We are not going to reward indolence; we cannot be giving free money to institutions that are not doing what they are supposed to do.

“In terms of skills, we want to improve the effectiveness of equipment in our institutions, such as the polytechnics among others so that they can provide all the skills that are needed in the country in the highest quality both nationally and internationally,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Arc Sonny Echono, said the fund would not continue to throw money away to centres that are not living up to expectations. Echono disclosed that some centres have funds with TETFund that they have not accessed since inception.

“The funds are with us because we have not released until you reach a milestone, but why they have delayed in reaching those milestones, are causes of concerns.

The TETFund boss noted that the strategy for establishing centres of excellence was a very good one because TETFund realised that it didn’t have enough resources to improve all the facilities of all public institutions at the same time.

“The idea was to incubate, to have one centre, the right equipment, the right tools, the right faculty and experts, that would lead our efforts in research, in promoting scholarship at the highest level so that they can also inspire other centres.

“We are going to be pooling from other institutions within the area who want to do further research or who want to carry out any other exploratory study in those particular fields in those areas,” he said.

He said some of the centres have done fantastically well since inception, stating that a lot of them are doing innovations.

“Sokoto just came up with one major solution for us. For example, they were the ones that discovered this vaccine for Covid, in partnership with other institutions. Now we are also in the process of getting vaccines for Lassa fever and so many others.

“So, some are doing very well. And some have come up with prototypes that we are now hoping to take to industries so that they begin to produce these goods and services,” he said.

On the non-performing institutions, he said “If you were established five years ago and you are still at your infancy, you have not been able to provide modern laboratories, facilities for scholars to come and learn, we want to know why. But we don’t want to be arbitrary.

“So, it decided to look at some institutions to find out their relative positions in terms of the quality of their faculty, their reputation in certain courses and in certain areas and designated them as centres of excellence for those particular courses.

Also presenting the Report of the Advisory Committee on Operationalisation of TETFund Skills Development Special Intervention, the Chairman of the Committee, Dr. Nuru Yakubu, said the committee recommended polytechnics for TETFund Special Intervention according to zones.

“South-West: the five schools visited have shown preparedness except for the Polytechnic Ibadan because of the school leadership transition. It is therefore recommended that in 2024 the following two polytechnics should benefit; Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State and Federal Polytechnic, Ede, Osun State for 2025 the committee recommends Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, Ogun State and The Polytechnic Ibadan, if they can sort out their preparations.

“South-South: The committee recommends Port Harcourt Polytechnic, Rimuola, Rivers State, and Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic Ikot Osunaa for 2024 TETFund Special Intervention. For the year 2025, the committee recommends Delta State Polytechnic and another polytechnic to be identified

“South-East: The Institute of Management & Technology has been recommended for 2024 and for 2025, Abia State Polytechnic, Aba and Federal Polytechnic, Oko.

“North-East: The committee recommends Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi and Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri for 2024 Intervention and Adamawa State Polytechnic and Tatari Ali Polytechnic for 2025.

“North-West: 2024 Birnin Kebbi, Daura for 2025 Kano State Poly, Sokoto State Poly and North-Central: 2024 Nasarawa and for 2025 Lokoja and Ilorin.


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