• Ex-ES, Bogoro, thanks President Buhari, Minister, A.A, hails successor; as Echono declares that:
  • ASUU’s demands on Varsity funding, salaries, legitimate, says Union was never on TETFund Board
  • To improve our scores in world rankings, our Varsities need to adopt effective exchange programs
  • TETFund’s Directors must live to their responsibilities or be replaced with more committed staff
  • TETFund’s work not ‘Hallelujah’s’ chorus, where only one man does the talk, everyone must hold his ground
  • As Perm Sec, I supported Bogoro’s policies, ready to build on his R&D, other laudable achievements
  • I did not lobby to succeed Bogoro, my Minister believed I merited it, recommended me to Mr President
  • Vice Chancellors, Rectors, Provosts, hail Bogoro’s stewardship, urge Arc Echono to write name in gold

By Waziri Isa Adam

For the first time in the short, but very successful history of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, an unprecedented event took place at the Fund on 21st, March, 2022, when Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro officially handed over administration of the Fund to his successor, following successful completion of his five-year truncated, but, very eventful and unparalleled tenure.

Professor Bogoro, a scholar of international repute and a university ac ademic per excellence with results-oriented passion for teaching, research and training, handed over leadership of the Fund to a very experienced bureaucrat, highly energetic and  versatile Technocrat,  Arc Sonny T. S. Echono, who recently bowed out of the federal civil service, after attaining his retirement age at the federal ministry of education where he successfully served as one of the longest serving permanent secretaries.

In a highly emotion-laden speech, the Research and Development Apostle, as Professor Bogoro is famously called by stakeholders in the tertiary education sector, thanked President Muhammad Buhari and the minister of education, Malam Adamu Adamu for finding him worthy to bring him back, after his initial five-year appointment by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, was truncated,  to complete or serve out his five-year tenure.

He said he was glad that he was handing over an agency that a lot of Nigerians have today come to refer to as the “most impactful intervention agency in Nigeria,”

He expressed satisfaction that the ranking of Nigerian Universities has improved with credit to TETFund intervention.

Bogoro said: “We tried to uphold fidelity, we also tried our best to meet the expectations of the beneficiary institutions as expressed in the law establishing the Fund. We made sure that we operated within the law”.

“We tried to address a major challenge in the Nigerian university system which was weak in research culture by creating a new and sustainable standard.” He added.

Professor Bogoro who described his successor as the man of the moment that takes the reign of leadership of management at TETFund, and as someone who is not new at the Fund, because he had represented the federal Ministry of Education on the TETFund’s Board for close to four years creditably, and through whom “I enjoyed all the support and cooperation I needed in all ramifications as Executive Secretary in the ministry”.

In his speech, the new Executive Secretary, Arc. Sunny Echono who spoke on wide range of issues, especially his vision at the Fund, also spoke on the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

He said as one of the longest serving permanent Secretaries in the federal ministry of education, he knows a lot about the grievances of the union, majority of which are legitimate, especially the issue of funding of the education sector and the need for the review of their salaries.

Arc. Echono said he concurs with the union’s consistent agitation that the education sector requires massive investment to prepare the nation’s population for national development and global competitiveness.

The new Executive Secretary however faulted the union’s claim that ASUU was represented on the Board of the TETFund from its inception, but was later removed for suspicious reasons.

“There was no time that ASUU as a union, had representation on the Board of TETFund”, Arc. Echono clarified, stressing that, however, members of the union as academics, like members of other unions in other tertiary institutions, are always engaged in the activities of the Fund at different levels, from time to time.

The Executive Secretary however appealed to the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, to suspend the ongoing strike while it continues with its dialogue with the federal government.

Arc. Echono who stressed that he was aware that education is not really funded enough, one of the reasons why the Union is currently on strike, however, pleaded with the academic staff to soft pedal on its demand of instant address of all their grievances, considering the fact that government is currently constrained with harsh economic realities.

Arc Echono who acknowledged that, the working condition of university lecturers in Nigeria were not good, insisted that the federal government was doing its best to address the union’s demands, if not for revenue shortfalls.

“I can fully relate the anger of ASUU members particularly the issue of welfare package. The welfare package is poor and really need to be reviewed and we are working on that. But let me share a story. I attended the naming ceremony of the daughter of a very good friend of mine some years ago. The lady I attended her naming ceremony is now a medical Consultant in one of the hospitals. She earns more than her father who started teaching long before she was born and has been a Professor for over 20 years now”, he said

He appealed to the union to show understanding on its uncompromising demand for its separate platform for receiving and payment of their salaries, which it often argues that it is better and more reliable and accurate than IPPIS. Arc Echono opined that there should not be problem on either, UTAS or IPPIS, which is the platform being used to pay people in other sectors of the economy.”

He, however, solicited ASUU’s kind understanding and consideration to the numerous financial challenges being faced by government, which has affected financial allocation to different sectors of the economy.

On the issue of university rankings, the ES observed that one major factor that had affected ranking and internationalization in Nigeria’s university system is the quality of faculty and exchange programmes in the schools. “If we have foreign lecturers and students in our institutions, it will greatly improve our scores and chances of being counted among the top universities in the world. But no foreign lecturer or student will come in unstable system.”

Arc. Echono said, as part of his policy, he promised to consult widely with critical stakeholders, in view of their importance and relevance, including ASUU and other staff unions in tertiary institutions in pursuing the realization of the mandate of the Fund, especially for feedback and evaluation of what TETFund has been doing as well as how best it can utilize the funds available to it, assuring that their involvement will also help in creating industrial harmony.

“We shall be having consultations with our critical stakeholders: Vice-Chancellors of Universities, Rectors of Polytechnics, Provost of Colleges of Education as well as staff Unions, ASUU, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), COASU (College of Education Academic Staff Union), and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) among others, for them to tell us which areas they want improvement”, he emphasized.

Echono added that he would focus on curriculum delivery in tertiary institutions in Nigeria, saying the challenge was how to make the nation’s graduates more relevant and not just employable but creators of wealth.

He said “The time when scarce resources are expended on graduates who sit at home for five to ten years expecting government to give them employments is over”

He said, “We must create symbiosis between industries and the academia to ensure that there will be seamless production of manpower to service our national economy”, Stressing that “Nigeria is actually in a position to play a key role in the production of knowledge economy, and even export same, after meeting our national demand. We can do this because we have comparative advantage in this area and can even compete in the global market.

He added that beneficiary institutions would be encouraged to leverage Information and Communication Technology (ICT), to improve curriculum delivery in the schools, saying when COVID-19 struck, it took everybody by surprise but the country was able to adjust with the help of technology as online teaching and learning platforms were promoted.

Arc. Echono commended the outgoing Executive Secretary, Prof. Bogoro, for his transparent achievements and selfless service to the country in the education sector, especially at TETFund where he laudably championed the now popular Paradigm Shift, which he therefore promised to build on, and the solid foundation that has already been laid, especially in the area of promoting content development, and the commendable research and development initiative, popularly known as R and D.

He said there is no doubt that TETFUND over the years, especially under Professor Bogoro, carved a niche for itself as the leading government agency, whose impact is felt and acknowledged today across the country.

In a traditional show of support and solidarity for the new Executive Secretary, a cross section of chief executives of tertiary institutions in the country that made up of Vice Chancellors, Rectors and Provosts have hailed Arc Echono’s appointment describing it as phenomenal and well-deserved, considering his wealth of experience as a seasoned bureaucrat and technocrat.

The Vice Chancellors who included Professor Abdullahi Bala of Federal University of Technology Minna, Professor Joe Tor Iorapuu of Benue State University, Professor Olayemi Akinwumi of Federal University Lokoja, Professor Sunday Paul Bako of Taraba State University, Jalingo, Professor Yohanna Tella of Kaduna State University, all prayed to the Almighty God to give Arc Echono good health, large heart and wisdom to make commendable difference in the nation’s most impactful intervention agency, and to write his name in gold, the way his predecessor, Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro, successfully did.

Other chief executives of tertiary institutions that sent goodwill messages to the new Executive Secretary and wished him success and God’s guidance, as he settles down to build on the solid, exemplary and unprecedented foundation laid by his predecessor, included the Provost of Federal College of Education Katsina, Dr Aliyu Idris Funtua, Dr Amos Bulus Cirfat, both, in his capacity as the Provost of Federal College of Education Pankshin, and as Chairman, Committee of Provosts of Federal Colleges of Education.

Others included the Rector of Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa, Dr Abdullahi Alhassan Ahmed, Rector, Federal Polytechnic Bida, Dr Abubakar Abdul Dzukogi.


Full text of Maiden Press Conference of Arc. Sunny S.T. Echono as the new Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) delivered on Monday 21/3/2022, shortly after taking over mantle of leadership of the fund from his predecessor, Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro, whose five-year tenure ended on 18/3/2022. Credit: Education Monitor Newspaper. 

Excerpt :

Directors and heads of units here with us, gentlemen of the press. I want to particularly appreciate His Excellency, the President and Commander in-chief of the armed forces; our leader for the confidence reposed in us to undertake yet another assignment, so shortly after over ten years of service as permanent secretary in various ministries, I feel specially honoured.

I want to in a very special way appreciate the Honourable Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu for recommending me for this job, I feel very humble and eternally grateful to him. I want to use this opportunity to declare that contrary to the norms in civil service, I did not lobby for this appointment from anybody, the decision is thus based on merit and I don’t take that for granted. As such I want to declare my loyalty and dedicate myself to the service of our country through this opportunity that I was given. What I solicit from all Nigerians and colleagues is prayer, that I am able to justify this confidence reposed in me.  I also want to solicit the support and co-operation of each and every staff of TETFund as well as all our external stakeholders.

I urge every staff to raise the bar, to commit and re-dedicate themselves to excellence and effective service delivery. We should be more responsive to all our stakeholders and promote the culture of team spirit; because each and every member of staff is very important and critical to us, in achieving our overall objectives and so every staff would be accorded his or her due respect. I also acknowledge the fact that as human beings you operate within the context of an environment and I pledge to do my best to create that enabling environment to make staff put in their best to continue delivering the mandate TETFund is known for over the years.

For the Gentlemen of the press, I want to assure you that our doors are open, we have an active media unit and every management staff is an ambassador of the fund. Any reporter who requires information and the Executive Secretary is not around, can approach any of the management staff to address your information needs, because I believe in transparency. I encourage all staff to exhibit your own dexterity, to express yourself by contributing immensely towards promoting TETFund’s operations. It is not a halleluyah’s chorus where only one man does the talk and thus, expect each and every one of you to hold his ground.

The educational sector operates on the basis of public service system. The public sector operates via departments, ministries and agencies, each head of department should carry all staff of the various units along and ensure he holds frequent and regular meetings with them so that policies would be configured and instructions were given for proper implementation.

It is true that I know most of you, for some even personal relationship, but I don’t allow that to interfere with my work, I would treat all Directors equal and whenever subject matter or issues relates to you come up, you should lead us, and that is why you are directors.  Directors are the top most professional officer in every organization. You must be on top of your game, and the assessment of your peers is even more important than that of your subordinates. We would hold regular meetings, and would ensure that due process is followed in every official engagement. So, Directors should take note of that to avoid acrimony amongst staff.

We run this organization through public act, and our expectations are very high, that is the all reason why we do all within our capacity to justify the confidence reposed on us. I have the privilege of representing Nigeria at global colleges of education, and one of the biggest challenges we realized is that we are not doing enough, we are not investing enough into the education of our children despite being one of the fastest growing populations in the world – our population growth rate is one of the highest in the world. That requires that we should continually increase our investment in education. If we compare that population from every assessment, we can conclude that we are not doing enough because we are constraint by the limited resources available and I know that government currently has serious revenue challenges, we have not been able to grow our economy sufficiently by expanding other sectors of our economy that will generate revenue for the country. And because we are not doing that, the pressure becomes even more on the limited resources available for intervention agencies like TETFund, and so funds must be used efficiently and prudently.

One of the big tasks before Directors is to review the systems check to examine cost analysis, for example with a view to identify how things can be done better, cheaper, faster and what improvement can we introduce and also lead to enthrone equity, our law is very emphatic about that. You hear things about quality about political goals, quality of projects, that same law would be brought to TETFund staff.

Each staff would be accorded the same opportunity to participate in such a way that your efforts would determine how important you are in this organization. But if you become lazy and stakeholders are always complaining about you, such as meeting deadline and so on, management may consider other staff from within and outside that are willing to carry out the assignment diligently. So, your job is a public trust and every one of us must see it as such. Given that, we are priviledged to be selected among the large population of Nigeria, let us justify that confidence.

I would immediately request that in the next few days I will start receiving operational briefings from departments with effect from tomorrow (22/03/2022), to enable us move on very quickly. As pointed out by everybody, I was fortunate to be involved in the affairs of TETFund for a number of years now, so I am quite familiar with the operations of the fund for the last four years.

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