‘Institutions suffering due to total dependence on govt’

By Faith Igbudu

Looking outside the box for revenue was the charge the Federal Government gave, as it inaugurated ‘Boards of Governing Council’ for the newly established eight federal polytechnics and six federal colleges of education across the country on January 19, 2021.

In his address, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, through representative capacity, Minister of State, Emeka Nwajiuba, performing the inauguration, admitted that, the federal government will not be able to provide sufficient funding for these institutions, as a result, the schools are expected to provide much of the funds it needs.

“it is evident that government cannot provide all the funds required to run federal polytechnics and colleges of education. Therefore, councils should think out of the box and endeavour to generate more revenue, outside government allocations.

“In this regard, councils should enlist the support of philanthropic organisations, individuals and other sources of revenue, through endowment for additional funding of their institutions,” he said.

This statement aligns with the inability of the federal government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to ever come to an agreement.

With the attendant benefits of education in any society, the question that readily comes to mind is why is such an aspect of human development, not adequately catered for?

Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU-BSU, Dr KwaghfanTarnongu had earlier in an interview with The Voice said, “We will keep fighting for the educational sector to have more funds because most of the issues that results to strike begin from the budget stage.”

He said, “For a long time our union, ASUU has always encouraged government, at the federal and state level to inject more funds to the educational sector. After all the pleas and encouragement, government is still not injecting more funds to the sector which clearly shows that Nigerian leaders do not want the development of the education sector and the reasons are, corruption.”

He advised that government should synergize with the university community, while planning the annual budget saying doing so will close gaps for strike actions.

Meanwhile, former Benue state House of Assembly member, Ralph Igbabo noted that the United Nations (UN) provision for educational budget of 26% may never be a reality for Nigeria due to the growing number of needs.

According to him “statutory allocation can never be enough and this is not perculiar to the education sector, it applies to every sector of the economy. For example the health sector is always complaining too. I think it pausity of funds. You see budgets are made on projections based on expected revenue accrueing to government.

“So what has been allocated to education so far, may be an aggregate of what the govenment thinks can take care of sector. There are competing needs all over, so it can never be enough. What is required is to make the best use of what is available.

“If you look at the allocations take for instance from 1999 till date, you will see there has been a steady increase but the exigencies are also there, the country has passed through a lot of problems and economic downturns till date but in spite of it, in my fair assessment, I think, the government has done it’s best within the limited resources,” he added.

Rector, Federal Polytechnic, Wannune, Dr Terlumun Utsev explained that the need funds “though ours is a new school, I feel that apart from the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), schools can generate revenue through consultancy services offered to the outside world. Revenue can also be generated through the skills acquisition program, were these services are offered for a fee and also engaging in agricultural vocations like fish farming poultry farming and others.”

According to him, “the need for schools to providing funds for self should not affect the school charges making them unaffordable for students. “The aspect of gerating revenue from students, to me is insignificant. That is not the main motive of education. The motive is to impact knowledge. The school charges should not be affected because of the charge.”

Utsev further said, “in the past, there were some issues between the board and school leadership on the issue of procurement. It is a known fact that the rector is the chief accounting officer of the school. This was becoming challenging for rector’s or provosts as the case may be.

“What the ministry did was to define the role of procurement. Board members are to stay off the day to day running of their schools, why the person heading the school takes full charge of procurement to allow for a seamless process and proper accountability,” he added.

Thus, in the polytechnics the rectors and his/her management are responsible for procurement while in the colleges of education, the provosts and his/her management teams are in charge of procurement. The chief executive is, however, expected to brief the governing councils regularly on all procurements, as it is done on all financial and other matters, he added.

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