Sometime this year, the chairman of Presidential Action Committee against Corruption (PACAC), Professor Itse Sagay, paid a Fact – Finding visit to the TETfund headquarters based on allegations of stringent policy by the Agency boss, Dr. A.B Baffa. The no nonsense PACAC Chairman, of high moral and caliber, after a thorough scrutiny concluded that “we are impressed with the development in the TETfund, and we urged the agency to keep up the good work.” He added that the TETfund is complying with the ongoing anti-corruption war and has a lot of good attestations to give in this regard.
Surprisingly, a Centre called centre for Public Accountability (CPA) partitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission with the allegation of political corruption in the agency as published on Daily Trust newspaper of August 29, 2018.An allegation that can best be described as mischievous, a political witch-hunt, with the ultimate motive of tarnishing the good image of the TETfund boss. Obviously CPA has no idea the kind of person the TETfund boss is and the centre has no information on the current reforms at TETfund.
If the word integrity means the quality of having strong moral principles, then Dr. AB Baffa is integrity personified. There are no cutting corners with the TETfund boss. When meeting standards are at stake, the man simply doesn’t compromise, you either do it right or you get nothing. Unfortunately, this is a terrain most beneficiaries of TETfund are not familiar or comfortable with; business not as usual. Perhaps what CPA does not know is, Dr. AB Baffa invited the EFCC to look into every activities of TETfund.
Immediately after his appointment as the Executive Secretary, he liaised with the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), which is a body responsible for collection of the 2% Educational Tax (ET), assessable profits, Office of the Accountant General as well as Central Bank to make sure that that TETfund is getting what is due to it and to abide by the sharing ratio, which is 2:1:1: Universities, Polytechnics, and Colleges of Education respectively.
After gotten the Presidential nod, Baffa suspended Special Intervention Projects (SIP), and changed the name to Zonal Intervention, considering that the annual direct disbursement for the proceeding years before his appointment was only 20% of the allocation, while special intervention was 80%. Interestingly, the TETfund made a saving of about N 78 billion which was channeled to complete so many uncompleted projects.
Contrary to the claim by the CPA that TETfund violates the laid down procedures for awarding contracts, contracts are awarded only on merit after fulfillment of the standard requirements set by Bureau for public procurement.
Dr. Baffa is the first TETfund boss to blow whistle on contractors, who disappear after collecting first tranche payment and those who make false claims on projects. All cases where identified and resolved in collaboration with the law enforcement agencies.
Another critical area is Academic Staff Training and Development (AST&D), which is capacity building intervention basically aim at building capacity of scholars working in tertiary institutions to create opportunity to pursue higher education at home and abroad. Some beneficiaries were given approval to study in Europe but ended up in African countries, some got approval for PhD, but register for Masters Degree, and the worst among them are those who collected the money and refused to go. The TETfund boss put working machinery that identify and recovered such diverted funds, and keep an eye on further occurrences. Due to the new reforms the initial allocations for AST&D is triple, and consider the highest ever since the establishment of the TETfund despite the reduction in the tax collection.
For prudence and accountability, Dr. Baffa initiated Access Clinic, an avenue where TETfund beneficiaries have to perform before further accessing funds. Reaping from the successful conduct of the Access Clinic, So far more than half of the backlog of unaccessed funds has already been cleared.
Auwal A. Dankano, Kano