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Friday, June 21, 2024

University governing councils oppose Nigerian legislators’ directive

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The Committee of Pro-Chancellors of State Universities (COPSUN) has asked the House Committee on TETFund to withdraw its recent directive to Nigerian tertiary institutions regarding allocations they received from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).

COPSUN said the legislators’ directive that institutions should remain in action on implementation pending an interface with them would affect the institutions’ budgetary implementation.

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A statement by COPSUN President Suleiman Mahdi noted that the legislator’s directive also invaded the autonomy of universities.

“…this Committee humbly requests the TETFUND House of Representatives to rescind this directive and allow further consultation if necessary,” the statement read in part.

legislators directive

PREMIUM TIMES had exclusively reported how the House Committee on TETFUND asked all public tertiary institutions to delay budget execution of the funds pending interface with them.

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Days after TETFund announced the release of intervention funds, the House Committee, chaired by Miriam Onuoha, wrote to the Committee of Rectors of Colleges of Education, the Committee of Rectors of Polytechnics and the Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, directing them to stop the implementation of the intervention fund until they are authorized to proceed by legislators.

The committee asked them to submit all implementation details, including plans, designs and specifications for all projects and procurement, as contained in their intervention allocation letter for 2024 issued to the ems by TETFund.

They asked universities to send 30 hard copies and one hard copy by February 23.

But some heads of the institutions who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES in an earlier report suspected that it was an attempt by the lawmakers to extort and extort some of the funds from them.

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This also occurs at a time when universities believe they are advancing their autonomy, an issue that has repeatedly appeared in the demands of university workers’ unions.

The government recently announced the exemption of universities from the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), a platform that professors have consistently said goes against the autonomy of institutions.

COPSUN reacts

COPSUN is the first to react to the letters written to the association of heads of institutions rather than to individual institutions.

COPSUN noted that each university has a governing council that is empowered by law “to award or approve the award of contracts after due procurement processes and does so in the exercise of executive prerogative.”

“With the greatest respect to the House Committee, we believe that its action is not only an invasion of the autonomy of universities but a violation of the doctrine of separation of powers that has the potential to generate conflicts between the levels and branches of the government. ”said COPSUN.

Additionally, time is of the essence when executing these contracts and with the dollar exchange rate trending upward and resulting inflation, this could ultimately increase costs.

“The House Committee may wish to be respectfully reminded that the funds disbursed by TETFUND belong to the states and are subject to the exclusive appropriation and supervision of the Houses of Assembly of the various states. Therefore, the directive, although valid, should not apply to public universities.”

READ ALSO: Federal Government inaugurates N2.8 billion TETFund projects at Nigerian university

“While expressing its highest respects to the esteemed members of the House of Representatives and having no doubt that their actions are well-intentioned, this Committee humbly requests the House of Representatives in TETFUND to rescind this directive and allow further consultations, if required.”

Qosim Suleiman is a reporter for Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which pairs local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the world.

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