Former Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Prof. Suleiman Elias Bogoro, on Monday,21st January 2019, returned to his duty post at the agency that is responsible for funding of the nation’s public higher institutions of learning after three years of aborted tenure. He replaced Dr Abdullahi Bichi Baffa, who took over from him in 2016.
A statement from the Office of the Honourable Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu and signed by the Deputy Director of Information in the Ministry of Education, Mr. Ben Bem Goong said, the reinstatement of Prof. Bogoro is with immediate effect, with the same terms and conditions as it were in his previous appointment and as stipulated in the TETFund staff conditions of service. A letter signed by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Sunny Echono and addressed to Prof. Bogoro dated January 21, entitled, “Re-Instatement of Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund,” said, “You shall be eligible for re-appointment for further term of four years only subject to satisfactory performance.”
President Buhari in the message issued by the Ministry also urged Bogoro to utilise the new opportunity to re-focus the Fund and render its performance more responsive to the yearnings of the present administration.
Prior to this reappointment, Prof. Bogoro, a former lecturer with the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), was removed in February 2016 by the Buhari-led APC administration, on the suspicion that he misdirected the agency’s fund to Jonathan’s campaign in 2015. The Nigerian Senate of the 8th Assembly had on Wednesday the 2nd of December, 2015 raised an alarm and ordered the commencement of a probe into an alleged Education Trust Fund scam running into billions of Naira. The Senate has subsequently invited Prof. Bogoro to appear before it over the alleged diversion of funds. It alleged that TETFund under the Executive Secretary and with the supervision of Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan diverted N200billion education tax collected by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) between 2012 and 2013 to unknown and unspecified uses not recognized or permitted under the Act establishing the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund. This allegation was contained in a motion sponsored by Senator Abdullahi Aliyu (APC-Niger-North) at the plenary session of the senate. The Senator also alleged that some institutions got multiple allocations of special intervention, while institutions that are their peers in other zones did not receive any within the period under review.
Aliyu who was neither sure of the figures nor specific on the amount involved alleged virtually that “About N200billion of education tax collected between 2012 and 2013 were diverted. “Tertiary Education Trust Fund Board granted a loan to the Federal Ministry of Education and also organized a workshop and pre-retreat in the United States of America and Kenya in 2014 – 2015 without recourse to guidelines of the Act.
The Senator further stated that after spending nearly N1trillion between 2011 and 2015, “the state of infrastructure in tertiary institutions was still shabby, dilapidated and mostly run down.”
Following the resolution to probe TETFund, the Senate President Bukola Saraki directed that the Committee on Tertiary Institutions investigate and report back to the senate within a month. The probe is to cover the diversion of the tax collected between 2012 and 2013 and used for projects not recognized in or permitted under TETFund establishment Act, 2011.
The committee is also to look into an alleged misappropriation of funds from 2011 to 2015. “I want the committee to do a thorough job and within a month report to the senate so that we get a clear picture of the situation” the Senate president ordered.
Contrary to the allegation of the sudden disappearance of the sum of N200billion from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, PowerSteering findings revealed that the allegation is baseless and false. Therefore the senate may be investigating and persecuting the wrong person after all as no such money was paid into nor removed from TETFund project account at anytime.
The findings also revealed that the N279 billion being Education Tax deducted by the Federal Inland Revenue for 2012 and 2013 neither got into the account of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund nor was any such amount diverted by TETFund management within the said period. PowerSteering reliably gathered that the above mentioned tax for education collected by FIRS was transferred into the TETFund account in Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through the office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) ready to be appropriated and used by TETFund when the Federal Government in its own wisdom at its time of need quickly used it to implement the NEEDS Assessment Programme of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
This prompted this magazine to do an FoI Act letter sometimes in February 2015 demanding an explanation from FIRS, CBN and TETFund. PowerSteering further reliably learnt that a total sum of N273.9billion was withdrawn from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) between September and December, 2013 with the approval of Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and without recourse to the TETFund Board for the purpose of revamping and reconstructing the dilapidated infrastructures in the Nigerian Universities across the country under the NEEDS Assessment Programme of the Federal Government. However, these withdrawals in four trenches were done between September and December, 2013 under the leadership of the former Acting –ES, Mr. Aliyu Manya before Professor Bogoro was appointed by the former President Goodluck Jonathan on the 14th April, 2014.
When PowerSteering spoke to some of the stakeholders who wouldn’t want their names mentioned, they agreed that the decision of the Federal Government to pull out this sum of money was in line with the mandate of the Act that set up TETFund which has always been to intervene in the infrastructural development of the tertiary institutions. And all of this was done long before the Bogoro led management came on board, and since the management was a continuous one, they managed the resources available to them from April 2014 without the 2012 and 2013 fund from FIRS through
Quite a number of people have welcomed Bogoro’s re-appointment saying it was a proof of his innocence and also due to his outstanding performance in his nearly two years in office during which he received a lot of praises. Such praises came especially from Heads of Tertiary institutions who are direct beneficiaries of Bogoro’s performance.
Glowing Tributes to Bogoro
A lecturer with ATBU, Simon Yalams, who is a close associate of Bogoro, said “Although some people may give the appointment a political undertone because it is the political season, to me his re-appointment has to do with his track records during his first tenure as TETFund chief. He is my colleague at ATBU and I know the kind of person he is.”
Former commissioner in Bauchi state, Dr. Audu Ghani Bogoro, said anybody who knew what Bogoro had done as TETFund boss would be happy to have him back there.
He, however, said that some people would definitely look at it from the political angle, even as he insisted that merit should always override political patronage. The national leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has commended President Muhammadu Buhari over the sack of TETFund Executive Secretary, Dr Abdullahi Bichi Baffa. NANS’ Public Relations Officer, Mr Adeyemi Amoo, gave the commendation in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja .
“NANS sees this action as a long overdue one, in the interest of the nation’s integrity, as NANS and some civil society groups had long protested and demanded for the sack of the TETFund executive secretary months ago.
“NANS calls on the EFCC to immediately arrest and subject the sacked executive secretary to detailed probe on his activities through his days in office.”
While some welcomed Bogoro’s re-appointment, saying it was due to his outstanding performance as the head of the agency, others see it as a strategic political move to strengthen the chances of the ruling APC in Bauchi state in the 2019 general elections. Prof. Bogoro was appointed by Jonathan following his alleged nomination by former Bauchi state governor, Adamu Muazu, Bogoro’s classmate of Gindiri Class of 1976, who served as PDP national chairman during Jonathan’s tenure up to the 2015 elections. Many have linked the return of Bogoro to the recent defection of Muazu from the PDP to the APC saying his return was one of the bargains made by Muazu to shift base. Thus, many Nigerians in the opposition parties saw the sack of Dr Abdullahi Bichi Baffa who hails from Kano as politically motivated.
Watchers of polity in the country argue that Bogoro returned to TETFund due to the former governor of Bauchi state’s (Adamu Muazu’s) recommendation, a move required for APC to garner votes from Bauchi south where Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, also Bogoro’s cousin hails. This way, the supporters that the APC lost with the exit of Speaker Dogara will return to APC preparatory to the 2019 general elections, but how correct the argument is, is another narrative.
Sources claimed that before his defection to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Speaker Yakubu Dogara, had a firm grip of the political apparatus in Bauchi south.
The Speaker’s defection to the PDP, it was gathered, had reduced the influence of APC in the senatorial zone, but the APC was trying to use Muazu and others to reclaim their firm hold on the zone.
A top APC official in Bauchi state said Prof. Bogoro is well grounded in politics of Bauchi south senatorial district.
“As an appointee of APC government, I have no doubt he would justify the responsibility given to him. Yes, Dogara is very strong but Prof. Bogoro would march him neck to neck.
“Prof. Bogoro is an elder in Bogoro, the hometown of the speaker and he too has empowered hundreds of people from across the divide and they would definitely support him to succeed,” he said.
Why Baffa had to go
Although no reason was given by the Ministry for the unexpected termination of the appointment of Baffa, PowerSteering gathered that several factors led to his sack.
According to a source, Baffa who was once a director general at Buhari Support Group, had disagreements with the Education Minister over the handling of the Fund, and was flouting orders from the ministry at will, which did not go down well with the minister.
Others said he was too involved in partisan politics, especially in his home state of Kano, therefore, he was unable to discharge his functions effectively.
Baffa who was a special assistant to the education minister before his appointment as TETFund chief, on his part alleged that he was forced out of office after the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, accused him of collecting bribes from tertiary institutions.
Dr. Baffa told BBC Hausa that Mr Adamu sent his closest contractor to him to accuse him of three things.
“He mentioned the first, the second; and the third one he said I distributed over N200 billion to tertiary institutions.
“(He said) even if I used to collect at least 10% as kickback, I am supposed to have gotten at least N20 billion for myself.”
The sacked official then denied that he never got any kickbacks from any institution that TETFund distributed money to.
“I want to say here now that I have never asked any institution to give anything as kickback and if there is, let that school come forward.
“If they bring any evidence indicting me, I’m ready to accept death punishment,” Dr. Baffa said.
An insider and close associate of the Minister who declined to be mentioned said the one time boot-licker of the Minister of Education and a host of people whom the Minister, Mallam Adamu Adamu holds in high esteem, fell out of favour as a result of arrogance. He said Dr. Bichi would stride into the Minister’s residence before the Ministerial appointments by President Muhammadu Buhari. He would sit with us and join in discussions on a variety of issues including politics, governance and a lot of other subject matters
Dr. Bichi was a typical sycophant who would praise the Minister and President Buhari till we began to yawn with boredom. I engaged him in a lot of heated discussions regarding the new administration of President Buhari to the point that the Minister once told me, “Bello, do you not know we have people who actually support every single action the President took”? I became aware Bappah Bichi was one of such people. His script worked like magic
The Education Minister and even myself were firmly of the opinion that Bichi was a Nigerian to the core. He was a member of the transition committee. Upon the conclusion of the transition exercise, a friend of the Minister suggested he appointed this disciplined and dedicated university lecturer as his Adviser on Technical Matters. However, Dr. Bappah was not satisfied, he continued his pilgrimage to the Minister’s residence in his dilapidated Nissan Saloon car which belongs to the university he was lecturing.
Again, the same friends of the Minister asked the Minister to appoint him as the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Institutions Trust Funds. An office the Minister told me he got 26 letters from state governors lobbying for the seat to their various states knowing the importance of the office. Against all odds, Mallam Adamu Adamu made him the TETFund ES and at the same time, to show his greed, Bichi locked the office of Adviser (Technical) at the Ministry and left, leaving the office without a new occupant. Before you know it, Dr. Bichi began by showing disrespect to members of staff of the institution to the point that his arrogance made him commandeer one of the elevators as his’ alone.
Staff of the Fund began to reminisce on their former boss, Professor Sulaiman Bogoro. An extremely humble personality who assisted his staff in carrying files whenever he saw a staff clutching bundles of files. Bogoro was always full of life and smile. He was a very charismatic leader and was loved by every single staff of the organisation. A lot of TETFund staff were shedding tears as it was announced that Professor Bogoro was replaced with an unknown, lame duck and extremely arrogant and unexposed lecturer from the Bayero University, Kano.
No sooner had Bichi taken over, he began to undo a lot of very important programmes of the organisation even with the disapproval of the Minister. Bappah began to nail his coffin when the Minister heard what Dr. Bichi was engaged in during a meeting between the Minister and university Vice Chancellors who lamented to the awe and shock of the Minister. Adamu Adamu asked what were they beating around the bush for? And demanded they told him. A certain VC from a southern university garnered the courage to tell the Minister, “sir; we are finding it hard to remit the 25% of our allocations as we were ordered by the ES.”The Minister was livid with rage and asked what 25%? The Minister was shocked literally, when he was informed the that ES asked them to remit the amount for “stakeholders” and “the Minister’s family”!
The Minister told them there and then that he never gave any approvals as such. That was the beginning of his woes at TETFund. Then Bappah Bichi began to nurse a gubernatorial ambition. A lot of people are still of the belief that Bichi had a hand in the Ganduje Videos (though it is not proved as accurate yet) but, he began to travel to Kano; (his home state) and started sponsoring radio programmes where hired hands would go on air and spew all sorts of campaign jargon thinking he would appeal to President Buhari.
Bichi began a campaign programme so shamelessly with public funds dubbed “One To Tell Ten”! He was cautioned by the Minister to desist from such misadventure but his words fell on dumb ears of Bichi because he had infiltrated the so called “cabal”.
Bichi, equipped with his connections with certain people in high places, began to pay courtesy calls to the ICPC and EFCC. A trick he thought would guarantee his continued pilfering of resources for his personal gain.
Bappah was hated by every single member of staff at TETFund to the point that when the gentleman; Professor Bogoro was announced as the new ES, videos of jubilations by staff of the organisation almost made Bogoro shed tears as he was welcome back to receive the hand over notes by the once all powerful, arrogant and disrespectful Bichi.
I hope the EFCC picks him soon so that he may answer and vomit back whatever he siphoned for his political contraption which will never bring him anywhere near the Kano Government House. While I congratulate Professor Bogoro, I say good riddance to bad rubbish to Dr Bappah Abdullahi Bichi. As the saying goes, “be nice to the people you meet on your way up as they are the same people you’ll meet on your way down/“ Of all people, Bichi will never forget this adage!
Past and present heads of TETFund
Mal.Tijani Ahmed Abdulkadir Jan 1994 – Sept. 1999
Mal. Mustapha Abba Jaji Sept 1999 –Aug. 2007
Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu Aug. 2007 – Aug. 2012
Mal. Aliyu Na’Iya (acting capacity) Sept. 2012 – April 2014
Prof Suleiman Elias Bogoro April 2014 –Feb. 2016
Mal. Aliyu Na’Iya (acting capacity) Feb. 2016 – July 2016
Dr. Abdullahi Bichi Baffa Aug. 2016 – Jan. 21, 2019
Prof Suleiman Elias Bogoro Jan 21, 2019 –