The need to improve quality education in Nigeria is an urgent one. That is why there is a need to challenge relevant institutions to stand up to their responsibilities. Tertiary Education Trust Fund is one of such institutions that need to be up and doing in its statutory responsibility in terms of providing critical interventions to the needs of our educational institutions. It must however be noted that the agency has been silently making great efforts, especially in the past one year.
At different for a, the boss of the agency, the executive secretary, Prof. Suleiman Saidu Bogoro, has acknowledged the need for the agency to take more decisive steps in its responsibilities. It is equally gladdening that he has been leading the giant campaign in this regard.
Like its precursor, the Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF, as ably led by the President Muhammadu Buhari in those days, which made tremendous contributions to education, Funds as recently demonstrated what is possible given the right political will. The past one year has seen the fund made progress. The high point here is that the Bogoro had already whipped up a micro version of the larger change that is today sweeping across the country with the installation of a new government.
In a not too distant past, the various special funds for education – or for other sectors, were at best dismal in the perception Nigerians have of them. A lot of these funds operate the most opaque regimes for bodies that were specifically set up to addressed identified shortcomings in the education sector. There were some that were so twisted that even the National Assembly invoking its investigative powers was never able to unravel the complex and knotty corruption that have taken roots in such places. This has, fortunately, not been the case with re—born intervention agency, which has given hope to Nigerians that great things happen when the right leadership is in place.
This apparently explains why several groups have hailed the present leadership as well as testifying to the agency’s the impact. Anecdotic testimonials by such groups indicate that there have been visible improvements in Nigeria’s tertiary schools as evident in the renovation, upgrade and construction of critical infrastructure. Others have identified overall improvement of the environment in which students study. Interestingly, several media reports have validated the assessments made by these organisations and given that media organisations are thorough in arriving at their reports then one can safely accept that great things have really happened at the fund.
The growth and improvement in infrastructure is only rivaled by the capacity building for staff of tertiary institutions in the country. The implication of this is that those entrusted with educating our youths are themselves now being empowered. This move is one in the right direction because it would have been pointless building, renovating and furnishing structures while those who churn out the products remain mentally stuck in the 90s. It is thus remarkable that this aspect was not overlooked by the Fund.
Within the fund, a Research and Development Centre has been established within the short time that Bogoro has been in charge. This speaks volume of a man who is committed and dedicated to excellence. It is a re-assertion of the primacy of research in the contemporary world. The management has seamlessly keyed into the change agenda of the incumbent government and the fund is kind of already moving in the direction that is desirable to Nigerians and in tune with the policy drive of government. The kind of changes taking place at Nigerians tertiary schools courtesy of the fund is the kind that will once again make our institutions attractive to prospective students who will likely no longer have to spend billions of naira paid as school fees that in turn power the economies of other countries to the detriment of Nigeria.
The Bogoro must however realise that the kind of ovations following his achievements will only lead the people to demand more action. He must thus continually dip into his bag of ideas to come up with further innovations that can make Nigeria into an education destination, not just for the African continent but for the whole world.
He must also watch out for those who could attempt to drag him into needless confrontations aimed at distracting the change taking place at the Fund. This has happened to trailblazers in the past and it is something the country cannot afford to happen at this critical juncture when the preponderance of desire is to see the key institutions of the land reboot into functional modes for development.
So, like Oliver Twist, one must ask for more. Professor Bogoro must sustain the tempo he has started with at Fund but this is a given. The actual demand one must make of this erudite scholar is that he must take the agency to places. He should demonstrate to Nigerians that institutions can excel. And for this we will be grateful to him.
Comrade Agbese writes from Abuja