Varsity workers tackle TETFund over suspension of oversea conferences

  • Describe action as ill-advised

The non-teaching staff in the universities have kicked against the recent Federal Government policy through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, which suspends them from attending overseas conferences over alleged paucity of funds.

The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, in a letter to the Executive Secretary of TETFUND, said it considered the notification which only allows the teaching staff to attend conferences abroad as discriminatory, misguided, ill-advised, and a negation of the principles upon which a government agency such as TETFUND should operate.

SSANU in the letter signed by its National President, Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim further stated that the action of TETFUND was capable of retarding staff development and even threaten industrial harmony within the system.

Recall that TETFUND had on July 17, in a letter to all heads of its beneficiary institutions with the title, “Conference attendance exchange rate update notification,” signed by Abubakar Adamu, Director, Academic Staff Training and Development for the Executive Secretary, said that due to paucity of funds, non-teaching staff have been suspended from attending overseas conferences.

The TETFUND letter read in part, “You may recall that there has been a major monetary policy reform in the country that established a single exchange rate for the naira where the Central Bank of Nigeria has adopted a new exchange rate policy of floating Naira and this essentially allows market forces to determine the exchange rate.

“In order to comply with the policy, the Fund has adopted the following exchange rate for the vetting of foreign conference attendance intervention: USD 746.89, GBP-948.075, EURO – 814.76.

“Consequently, the Management has approved the suspension of non- teaching staff to foreign conferences due to paucity of funds. In view of the above, you are kindly requested to note the exchange rate and ensure that only teaching staff with evidence of accepted Paper for presentation are nominated for foreign conferences.”

But SSANU in a letter addressed to the secretary said, “The attention of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) is drawn to a notification dated July 17, 2023, emanating from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) signed by one Barr. Abubakar Adamu, Director Academic Training for the Executive Secretary.

“The said notification which pegged exchange rates for the vetting of Foreign Conference Attendance Intervention in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) policy of floating the Naira, went further to distasteful and maliciously suspend any further consideration of Non-Teaching Staff for foreign conferences on account of ‘paucity of funds’.

“SSANU notes with dismay, the action of TETFUND, and unequivocally holds that such ill-advised move would negatively affect the corporate governance of Nigerian universities and the job performance of the Non-Teaching staffers who are majorly the ones running the University system.

“We find it appalling that TETFUND has decided against the consideration of Non-Teaching Staff for foreign conferences when ab-initio, there is a skewed 70:30 allocation for training which had never favoured the non-teaching staff. It is painful that the non-teaching staff of tertiary institutions have to be the fall victims of further discrimination on account of “paucity of funds.”

it further said, “SSANU, therefore, considers this notification of TETFUND as discriminatory, misguided, ill-advised, and a negation of the principles upon which a government agency such as TETFUND should operate.

“SSANU also holds that this action of TETFUND is capable of retarding staff development and even threaten industrial harmony within the system –

especially at a time the new administration of President Bola Tinubu is working hard to ensure industrial peace in our tertiary institutions.

“We therefore urge TETFUND to without any hesitation, retract the said notification, and set machinery in motion, which would see to the fair consideration of the Conference applications of every category of staff in Nigerian tertiary institutions.

“We also recommend that TETFUND draws up guidelines that would entrench the principles of equity, fairness and justice in the consideration of all staff applications for both local and foreign conferences and training.”

The statement added, “Conclusively, SSANU advises that TETFUND as a responsible agency of the Federal Government should be involved in actions that would unite our Universities, and not engage in pushing poorly thought out plans which would see to the polarization of Nigerian Universities and brewing crisis within our citadel of learning.”

The letter was copied to the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja.

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