The Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) revealed that the fund has absconded over 137 students who were sponsored for higher education abroad.
During his appearance before the House of Representatives Ad-hoc committee investigating the alleged mismanagement of N2.3tn tertiary education tax by TETFund, Echono highlighted the issue of scholars sponsored by TETFund who refuse to return to Nigeria after completing their programs.
He expressed concern over the scholars who enjoy the scholarship but fail to fulfill their obligation to return to the country as required. Echono mentioned the challenges faced by the guarantors responsible for repaying the funds spent on behalf of the absconded scholars.
To address this issue, TETFund is working with stakeholders to implement stringent and effective measures against those who refuse to return, ensuring that Nigerians benefit from their expertise. Echono suggested involving embassies and institutions to enforce repayment for those refusing to return. If repayment is not made, these individuals may face consequences such as being declared persona non grata and experiencing difficulties securing employment in their host countries.
Echono also mentioned the possibility of suspending foreign scholarships due to the exchange rate crisis. He explained that TETFund pays fees for scholars abroad in foreign currencies, and the current exchange rate situation has resulted in additional costs. TETFund is considering focusing on local training within Nigeria’s experienced universities to manage the impact of foreign exchange fluctuations.
Regarding allegations of mismanagement, Echono denied the claims, emphasizing TETFund’s commitment to transparency and accountability.
The committee chairman, Oluwole Oke, clarified that the probe aims to prevent the misuse of public funds rather than engage in a witch-hunt.