By JOHN ONAH, Abuja –
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has committed about N7 billion to its various intervention projects in Benue State University (BSU), Makurdi, from 1999 to date.
The Chairman of the Governing Council and Pro-Chancellor of BSU, Sebastine Hon, SAN, made this known on Tuesday in Abuja when he led management of the institution on a courtesy visit to the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Arc. Sonny Echono.
Hon, who congratulated Echono on his appointment as TETFund boss, commended President Muhammadu Buhari over his choice, even as he described the Executive Secretary as “one of our illustrious alumni, having graduated with a degree in MBA in Management from our University.”
While expressing delight over the various TETFund projects that now dotted the University’s campus, the Pro-Chancellor appealed for the speedy completion of other ongoing projects.
He said : “We are here to also acknowledge and express the profound appreciation of the visitor, the Council, management, staff and students for the support both in terms of content-base Interventions and Infrastructure BSU has benefitted from TETFund from 1999 till now.
“Our campus is dominated with TETFund-sponsored legacy structures including the central library, laboratories, lecture theatres, faculty buildings, student social centre, and entrepreneurship development centre, not excluding research (IBR, NRF, ARJ, AMB), academic training and conferences (foreign and local), post-doctoral, Bench work and developments in ICT.
“In all, the University has received about seven billion naira (N7,000,000,000.00) in intervention from TETFund between 1999 and now.
” For want of time, we would have provided the statistics to enable the ES to understand our excitement and appreciation to TETFund in this regard.
” The Executive Secretary Sir, we have some TETFund-supported projects on-going now. Whereas some of the contractors have shown commitment, some have been poor.
” It is important to mention that the Covid-19 lockdown affected the speed and cost as it were. The projects include, Construction and furnishing of Faculty of Education building -85%; Construction and furnishing of Research Development and Innovation Centre – 90%; Construction and furnishing of Academic Office building-80%; Construction and furnishing of block of offices for College of Health Sciences – 90%; Construction and furnishing of Faculty of Science building – 45%.”
Speaking further, the Pro-Chancellor called for a waiver to access the 2021/2022 TETFund’s allocations to enable the University’s address its challenges as well as special intervention on the institution’s library that was recently touched by heavy storm.
” We have a very small campus, and we desire to expand in terms of content-base and infrastructure. Our University has commenced appreciable steps with NUC to commence the following programmes: Architecture, Pharmacy, Engineering, and Building Engineering.
“Therefore, and further to the level of completion of the above listed projects, we hereby appeal to you to grant us a waiver to allow the University to access the 2021 and 2022 annual allocations to enable us to proceed with the projects tied to those allocations.
“We wish to also report that our central library suffered severe damage caused by a recent storm. This has left the building and property therein exposed to the elements. We desire to submit a request for disaster intervention.”
On his part, the TETFund boss, who commended BSU for its massive contribution towards the production of relevant manpower in the country, said the university is one first to be established in the entire northern part of Nigeria by state government.
On the appeal for completion of all ongoing projects in the University, Echono said: “I have earlier given the directive that as a matter of policy, we have undertaken a comprehensive review of all of our outstanding projects with a view to bringing those that are close to completion, speedy completion through the various strategies we have identified…
“I am also pleased to inform you that we have secured the concurrence of the Honourable Minister of Education that from next year, we will have a special provision in our allocations for the completion of all ongoing projects…..”
Echono said the special provision which was hitherto captured in the the Fund’s allocation to beneficiary institutions will address the issue of delay in projects’ completion, even as he blamed slow pace of work in some projects on variable in cost of materials and time.
“We have projects that commenced but because of fluctuations in prices of important building materials, because of the delay associated with the Covid lockdown and other disruption to other economic activities we now have both time and cost overhead and the earlier we address this the better for our country as we will not have abandoned projects littering round our campuses,” Echono said.
The Executive Secretary, who said TETFund has a very high rate of completion of projects, promised that the Fund would also look into the request for special intervention on the BSU library that was affected by storm through its Stability Fund.