How TETFund awarded N7.6bn questionable contracts within two months

Adebari Oguntoye
Adebari Oguntoye

The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has awarded N7.6 billion contracts to two companies without due process.

Within two months, TETFund awarded N3.8 billion respectively to Fides Et Ratio Academy and Pole Global Marketing (PGM) to provide capacity building course and learning management systems to about 2 million students across institutions.

However, the agency, whose responsibility is to make intervention in public tertiary institutions, did not get the approval of the federal executive council (FEC), which is required for the contract size.

This is a violation of the Public Procurement Act of 2007, as amended.

In a letter dated May 24, 2023, signed by Kolapo Okunlola, director of human resources and general administration at TETFund, to the chief executive officer of Fides Et Ratio Academy, the agency approved the capacity development training for students and some staff of tertiary institutions for one academic session.

“I am directed to refer to your proposal on the above subject and inform you that Management has approved your engagement for a capacity building certificate course (Communication, Entrepreneurship and Productive Skill Development) inclusive of the Train-the-Trainer programme for Five Hundred and two (502) participants at the total cost of N3,812,500,000.00 (Three Billion Eight Hundred and Twelve Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira) Only,” the letter reads.

“Please note that this offer is subject to the following terms and conditions: Your company shall be responsible for training the students on the following: Development of Entrepreneurship skills – This will provide an awareness to aspiring entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into successful businesses; Development of Communication and Employability skills – The communication skills training will help participants develop the skills needed to communicate effectively in the workplace and beyond while the employability skills training will help participants acquire the skills needed to secure employment and succeed in the workplace;

“Development of Capacity Building skills – This will equip students and institutions with the skills needed to grow and thrive. This training covers areas in leadership, teamwork and project management; Training the ICT staff of the Beneficiary Institutions on basic and advanced ICT skills needed for a successful teaching and learning process.

“Duration: The duration of this commitment shall be for a period of One (1) academic session (10 months). You are expected to exercise due diligence. Payment: Please note that payment would be made in two instalments, 70% of the total sum would be paid upon acceptance of the offer and the outstanding 30% balance payment would be after the successful completion and submission of a detailed report on the training to the Executive Secretary.”


A TETFund project in a higher institution

In another letter dated June 1, 2023, Okunlola conveyed the approval of the agency to the chief executive officer of PGM for capacity development and blackboard implementation and training of students and staff of tertiary institutions.

“I am directed to refer to your proposal on the above subject and to inform you that approval has been granted and you have been selected for the Capacity Development and Technical Works for Blackboard for Beneficiary Institutions in the Six (6) Geopolitical Zones for Learning,” the letter reads.

“Management System (LMS); Blackboard – a renowned dynamic learning management software capable of delivering both online and offline teaching/learning functionalities for Two Million (2,000,000) Students and Administrator and UNESCO Certified Teacher Training Course for Two Thousand, Five Hundred and Ten (2510) participants (ICT, Academic and Administrative staff Ten (10) per institution from 251 Beneficiary Institutions.

“Please note that this offer is subject to the following terms and
Conditions: Creation and customization of Learning Management System for each Beneficiary Institution for students; Integration and knowledge transfer for students; training for ICT, Academic and Administrative staff.

“Please note that payment would be made in two installments. The first payment of 85% would be made upon successful take-off of the project, confirmation of enrolment of participants on the Anthology (Blackboard) and PGM Local Hub and submission of a detailed progress report showing progress on the project deliverables While the final payment of 15% would be made after the successful completion of the programme and submission of a detailed report on the training to the Executive Secretary.”

It was gathered that full payment has been made to Fides Et Ratio Academy, while the contract was not executed in most institutions. Also, 85% of the contract sum has reportedly been paid to PGM with no traces of the work done.

In addition, the TETFund Act was breached by contracting to train students directly. The Act doesn’t empower the agency to provide academic training directly to students.

NewMailNG learnt that the source of funds for the contracts wasn’t budgeted and approved by the president as required by law. TETFund was said to have deducted the funds from 2023 ICT allocation to universities, polytechnics and colleges of education after approval by the president, which amounts to the agency usurping presidential powers.

For the contract awarded to PGM, TETFund was said to have illegally paid $5 million offshore, while the agency bore the cost of the transfers.

It is illegal to pay a Nigerian registered company in foreign currency.

When Abdulmumin Oniyangi, TETFund spokesperson was contacted, he said the agency might respond to the enquiries after the public holiday.

Despite calls and text messages sent to Oniyangi as reminders, the agency has not responded to the findings.

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