Group condemns media attack on TETFUND boss

A coalition of civil society organizations (CSOs) under the aegis of CSOs for Transparency, Accountability and Good Governance has risen against allegations of fraud and contract racketeering against the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), Arc. Sonny Echono.

Addressing a world press conference in Abuja on Friday, Convener of the group, Comrade Adams Abonu, expressed reservations about recent reports from a section of the media that the TETFUND boss awarded contracts for non-existing projects to a tune of N7.6 billion.

“Our coalition observed with a sense of relief that the ES of TETFUND, Architect Echono, has brought his wealth of experience in sound procurement procedures to bear in his incumbent role and this has come with attendant benefits in sound tertiary instruction in Nigeria. At a time when the world is advancing towards information technology and researches that meet emerging development challenges, it’s heartwarming to note the sense of purpose and dedication of the current administration at TETFUND focused in this direction, and in the process drawing templates that are being modeled by other countries. Some of these procedures include but not limited to sound procurement, processes, reducing and eliminating wastage of funds and capital drains, involving key stakeholders and beneficiaries of targeted funds in projects execution and ensuring monitoring of disbursed funds to ensure that targeted objectives are achieved.

“While an era of transparency is being nurtured in TETFUND, it is disheartening to observe a disgruntled section of the public orchestrating a campaign of calumny against the leadership of the the agency. This coalition condemns in the strongest terms these acts of mischief that could impede on the needed dedication and zeal of the leadership the Agency. Recently, some online media published a report that TETFund awarded contracts worth N7.6bn within two months and paid a sum of N2.9bn to contractor for unexecuted job. Interestingly, the tertiary education sector in Nigeria is not so blessed with many active players and contributors. TETFund is the major player and contributor in the sector; which has largely contributed to its goodwill among stakeholders, and observers alike,” Comrade Abonu stated.

Describing the allegations of corrupt practices against Echono as unfounded, the group admonished media organisations to imbibe objectify and balance as the standard for any reportage. Abonu also stated that the coalition embarked on independent findings to the effect that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) statutorily disbursed funds meant for intervention projects.

Continuing, the group advised that “It’s in the interest of the Nigerian public to see through the narrow interests of these disgruntled elements who are taking advantage of the vulnerability of the media to distract an agency achieving premium objectives. Our coalition found that the era of transparency and accountability in TETFUND is worthy of emulation and we encourage Architect Echono and his team not to relent in giving their best in service to fatherland.”