THE Federal Government has directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission to investigate some contractors handling its intervention projects in some tertiary institutions.
Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Dr Abdullahi Bichi Baffa, who made this known at a news conference during the weekend in Abuja, vowed to recover every fund allocated for projects in tertiary institutions and was misappropriated.
He said the agency would blacklist such contractors in addition to ensuring that all funds stolen by them or beneficiary institutions were recovered.
He disclosed that the fund in the last five years disbursed about N1 trillion as intervention fund to public universities, colleges of education and Polytechnics, out which over N175 billion has not been accessed by some benefitting institutions as a result of several encumbrances.
Baffa, noted that from the Access Clinic organised recently for beneficiary institutions, it was discovered that after receipt of first tranche of money from the Fund, some beneficiaries unduly delay payment to contractors.
He disclosed that some contractors refuse to mobilise to site after receiving mobilisation fees, adding that in some cases a greater part of the project cycle is spent on the beneficiary pursuing the contractors to mobilize to site.
“In some cases, the contractors delay execution of the projects on the ground of price changes due to foreign exchange fluctuations despite signing fixed contracts with their clients,” he said.
While answering a question on if the agency would blacklist defaulting contractors, Baffa, said the agency has directed all the beneficiary institutions to provide the list of all defaulting contractors for it to be circulated to all tertiary institutions in the country, so that no institution would accept to give such defaulting contractor TETFund project.
“Also, there are institutions that we have advised, some we have directed that they should report certain contractors to EFCC or ICPC. And quite a number of them have complied and written to us that EFCC or ICPC has started coming to the institutions for investigations.
“Some have agreed on a period within which defaulting contractor has agreed under the influence of ICPC, to complete all the abandoned projects, and we are happy about this because we want all our projects to be completed.
“We want public funds allocated to these institutions, disbursed by this fund to be judiciously utilised. Where any penny is diverted, we are not going to rest on our oars; we will follow it and recover it,” he said.
He assured Nigerian public that TETFund under his watch would allow money released from the agency for execution of projects get missing.
Baffa, disclosed that the total un-accessed from 2011 to 2015 including 2016 which the projects are still ongoing in universities, colleges of education and Polytechnics was N175 billion at the time he appointed as the Executive Secretary of TETFund.
He, however, noted that in the last nine months when he assumed leadership of the agency, more than half of that amount has been accessed by the benefiting institutions.
He explained that main aim of the Access Clinic was to discuss, diagnose and remedy all encumbrances so as to enable the institutions fulfill the requirements to access funds.
He added that the exercise also enabled the Fund to reconcile financial records between the Fund and the beneficiaries which was a challenge in the past, saying in the process, timelines were extracted from the institutions for concluding the process of access.
“We are hoping that after this Access Clinic the remaining half, will be accessed within the timeline that we have agreed with the beneficiary institutions. We as a fund, would not want any penny allocated to beneficiary institution to still be with the fund.
“We want to money to be disbursed and to be used for the purposes intended. That is why we conducted the Access Clinic and that is why are going to institutionalised the Access Clinic.