The House of Representatives said it is empowered by the constitution to carry out oversight on the implementation of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) interventions in Nigerian tertiary institutions.
This is as the house also denied allegations that its committee on TETFund and other services is extorting heads of tertiary institutions in the country to verify their documents ahead of the implementation of their 2024 approved projects.
The position of the house is a reaction to the lead story of Daily Trust Saturday February 10 which reported the lamentations of some vice chancellors of universities, rectors of polytechnics and provosts of colleges of education who anonymously accused the TETFund committee of extortion and “unwholesome overbearing influence” on their internal matters.
The recent allegations are coming on the heels of letters sent by the committee to the institutions across Nigeria directing them not to proceed with the implementation of the 2024 approved projects until they meet with them.
Spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Akin Rotimi Jr, in his reaction described the allegation as “coordinated and sponsored smear campaign” by tertiary institutions which he said “have a lot to fear and consequently seek to hide.”
“Firstly, it must be stated that legislative oversight or directives over monies appropriated by parliament for a public institution neither constitute “unwholesome overbearing influence” in the management of the schools nor “breach their autonomy” as argued in both reports.
“While Section 7(5) of the TETFund Act may not explicitly mention National Assembly approval, it should be read and understood within the broader context of the constitution, which mandates such approval for withdrawals from public funds.
The absence of an express statement in the TETFund Act for National Assembly approval does not imply an exemption from constitutional provisions. Rather, it can be interpreted as an inherent understanding that all legislation, including the TETFund Act, is subject to the overarching principles enshrined in the constitution.”
“The directive by the House Committee on TETFund in its letter to the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU), requesting a suspension of the implementation of the 2024 Intervention Fund pending its approval is therefore well within constitutional bounds and in line with the need to ensure accountability.
“Hence, for any one or entity to resort to blackmail of the committee with allegations of extortion, they must understand that such an action is libelous and necessary legal action would be taken,” part of the statement read.