By Chinyere Nwachukwu
Lagos, Nov. 2, 2020 Mr Ibrahim Imam, Chairman, Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Tertiary Education TrusFund (TETFund), says plans are underway to construct facilities with provision for 2000 bed spaces across Nigerian universities.
This is to cushion the effect of inadequate student accommodation.
Imam disclosed this in an interview on the sidelines of the BOT engagement with beneficiary institutions of the Academic Publishing Centre in the South West geo political zone at the University of Lagos on Monday.
According to him, accomodation remains one of the most critical components of tertiary education system that must be supported to bring out the best from the students.
”One of the major things that I am personally very passionate about in the system is that of student accomodation.
Across most university campuses, bed spaces are just in the region of five to 10 per cent, and that is grossly inadequate.
”So, we are looking at doing 2000 bed spaces across Nigerian universities, starting with the first generation universities.
”We wish to do this in collaboration with the management of the universities as well as the private investors.
”I am essentially a private sector person, so I personally know the merits of involving the private sector on projects like this.
”So, going forward, it is one of the avenues that we are exploring on how to do a Pivate Public Partnership (PPP), and as soon as the private investors recover their costs, the hostels will be handed over to the school authorities,” Imam said.
He said that the intervention body would continue to deliver responsive programmes that would promote creative and innovative approaches to learning.
According to him, the TETFund has, over the years, become a veritable source of assured funds for desired intervention at the tertiary levels of education in the country.
”We are here in Unilag to see things for ourselves, we are also here to inspect all ongoing as well as completed TETFund projects.
“We have a total number of 75 projects at the University of Lagos alone, at varying stages of completion. Some have, however, been completed, some are ongoing, while some are just taking off.
”We hear that TETFund is performing, that TETFund is working, but we have come out on this visitation across Nigerian universities to see things for ourselves, to interact directly with stakeholders and beneficiaries with the management of the various institutions of higher learning, the faculties, and above all with the students.
”We want to know if we have impacted positively on the development of tertiary education in Nigeria, we also want to know if the projects are of high quality or not.
”We also want, in particular, to know if the projects addressed critical needs of the various tertiary institutions, but most importantly, we want to interact with faculty, the management of the various institutions and the students on critical needs.
”As you are aware, this is the last quarter, and we rightly felt that this is the time to take stock, this is also the time that we are looking at next year’s budget, so we felt that this is the ideal thing to do, instead of staying in Abuja, to determine their needs.
”It is imperative for us to come and interact with them, engage them, in a bid to find out from them, firstly, how well we have done, how much we have impacted and going forward, the critical needs they want us to address, this is our mission to the University of Lagos,” he stated.
On his impression of what his team had seen on ground, he said: “I personally, I am a very strong advocate of the fact that public institutions and public agencies can be made to work for the good of all.
”Having said this, I want to say that I am very happy that TETFund is demonstrating this.
”We have come, we have seen, and shall I say we conquered? This is because as I said, in Unilag alone, there are 75 projects that are ongoing, we have inspected several today and I must state that we are extremely impressed by the quality of work done here.
”We are also convinced that we are actually getting value for money, so this makes me particularly happy and going forward, we will continue to insist that we should even get greater value for the monies that we are investing.
”We have also identified very critical areas of needs, we have listened to the university management, the faculty members and the students, to assertain their needs, but we also came prepared with our own programmes,” he said.
He noted that the Vice Chancellor laid particular emphasis on the iconic College of Medical Sciences that had been designed, with request urgent critical funding.
According to him, there is also a request for a befitting library which is equally critical.
”The faculty of education is another critical area, but for me personally, there are two areas that are of great importance, the first being for us to facilitate the laying of infrastructure that will facilitate e-learning across Nigerian universities.
”Once upon a time, e-learning was considered a luxury, but with the onset of COVID-19, it is far from that. It has become an absolute necessity.
”When we deploy the infrastructure that will facilitate e-learning, it will not only be for the students alone, but for the entire faculty, lecturers, and all members of the university community.
”Another critical area is that of power supply 24 hours round the clock. We are looking at partnering with the Rural Electrification Agency, a govt agency, and this project has already commenced across a number of Nigerian universities,” he said.
He, however, noted that all of these projects would not be totally cost- free, adding that there was an absolute need to change the mentality in the university system that everything must come at zero cost.
”It cannot be and the sooner we are awake to this realisation and embrace the reality, the better for everybody,” he stated.
The Acting Vice Chancellor, Prof Folashade Ogunsola said the various TETFund intervention in the institution had been optimally put to use for the benefit of the entire community.
”We are very excited about this visit by the TETFund as it will offer them ample opportunity to see things for themselves.
”We are happy that they came to see all of their intervention projects and we are particularly gratified that they have added value to all that has been given us.
”Of course, they also saw how judiciously we utilised funds made available for the various intervention projects in our university,” Ogunsola said.