Written by Godfrey AKON

TETFund: how Baffa was axed

Ousted Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, Dr Abdulahi Baffa, has hinted on the intrigues and power play that ended his two year stint at the agency.

Baffa, who spoke on his ouster from the agency in an interview with the BBC, lamented his ordeal in the hands of the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, before his eventual sack.

According to him, eight months ago, Adamu had expressed anger over his disbursement of over N200 billion to benefiting tertiary institutions, alleging he collected 10 per cent of the intervention amounting to about N20 billion.

While the minister was said to have sent a messenger who demanded for the alleged 20 per cent collected, it was not clear if his effort was a shot at recovering the funds or appropriating them for himself.

“Eight months ago, Mr Adamu Adamu sent his biggest contractor to me and the contractor told me that the minister is angry with me on three things. He mentioned one and two issues and the third issue, he said that I shared over N200 billion to tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

“Even if I am collecting 10 per cent from the institutions I could have collected over N20 billion, where is the money? Let me tell you since I began this job I did not collect not even 10 per cent, 1 per cent or even one naira from any institution. If there’s any school that I requested a percentage of the money I disbursed to them, I will be willing to accept a death penalty,” he said.

Recall that last Monday, Adamu, in a statement, reinstated Prof Suleiman Elias Bogoro as the Executive Secretary of TETFund, following the unexpected sack of Baffa.

“The re-instatement of Prof Bogoro is with immediate effect, with the same terms and conditions as it were in his previous appointment and as stipulated in the TETFUND staff conditions of service. Prof Suleiman Bogoro was the Executive Secretary of TETFUND between April 2014 and February 2016,” the statement read.

But Baffa said Adamu had attempted his removal on several accessions by falsely accusing him before President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that the President however ignored him until last Monday when he acceded to his sack.

 “On Friday night, I received a phone call that the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, went to see the president clutching a file to report me, demanding my ouster. This is not the first time. For months he has been reporting me to the president falsely accusing me but the president resisted,” he said

The former TETFund boss said he had evidence that Adamu reported him to the President alleging he was inaccessible, insubordinate and granting press conferences without the minister’s consent, allegations he vehemently denied.

Baffa was appointed the Executive Secretary of TETFund in 2016.

In the same light, the Joint Council of Civil Society Groups has expressed delight over the ouster of Baffa.

The council, in a statement by its National Convener, Comrade Solomon Adodo, commended the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, for sacking Baffa, stating that his removal was long awaited.

Adodo said there was evidence of ineptitude, corruption and lack of respect for constituted authority which all festered with free let while Baffa presided over the affairs of TETFund.

“It is on record that Dr. Bichi ran the affairs of the prime education Agency as if it were his patrimonial heritage. Funds meant for injection into TETFund projects we dispensed with at the free will and unbridled whims of Dr. Baffa Bichi.

“It should not be lost on the discernible public that Dr. Baffa Bichi deployed Houdini tactics to divert a great chunk of funds meant for TETFund projects to private coffers while our Tertiary institutions were left to with the pangs of pain as the backlash of Dr. Bichi's ineptitude and corrupt inclination,” he said.

While stating that his Council has severally raised alarm over the magnitude of fraud that festered in TETFund under Baffa, he said the council was pained that the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, allowed him to remain in office for so long.

Adodo called for further probe of Baffa “for misappropriation of TETFund finances and other forms of maladministration which combined to exert an overwhelming negative toll our educational system and by extension overall national development.”

He urged “Adamu not to be deterred by the desperate blackmail tactics which Dr. Bichi has chosen to helplessly spin.”

Similarly, the Civil Society Groups for Accountability and Probity have commended the Federal Government for re-instating the erstwhile Executive Secretary of TETFund, Prof. Suleiman Elias Bogoro.

The groups, which stated this a statement by Comrade Jonathan Ogwuche, their National Secretary, said “the reinstatement is best described as a round peg in a round hole as his earlier stint there left a big vacuum that could not be easily filled by his successor.

“As stakeholders who are concerned about enthroning accountability and probity in the polity, we make bold to say that Bogoro shoes at TETFund were sufficient to tackle the challenges faced by tertiary institutions and these shoes laced with impeccable integrity could not be easily filled.

“We are particularly proud of the Minister, Adamu for putting the interest of the nation as a priority in his strategic bid to reinvigorate TETFUND. Ordinarily, he would have preferred Baffa, who was his aide before he was named the head of TETFund but he placed competence and honesty to be deciding factors.”

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