The Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Sonny Echono, has said that over 137 students sponsored abroad by the fund absconded.
He stated this when he appeared before the House of Representatives Ad-hoc committee investigating the alleged mismanagement of N2.3tn tertiary education tax by TETFund on Tuesday.
Echono said the scholars, who were sponsored by TETFund for “higher education” abroad refused to return to the country after completing their programmes.
We may have to take that hard stand because the numbers are alarming. We just checked about 40 institutions and over 137 absconders and the review is ongoing,” he stated.
It is a huge number that we cannot afford and so we will be seeking your support to strengthen some of the existing regulations to ensure that those who benefit from this programme must come back.
“We are not against people looking for greener pastures but do so on your own, not through our scholarship or through our sponsorship.
“Some of the scholars that have been sponsored, unpatriotically when they go, they enjoy our scholarship, acquire a higher degree, then refuse to come back, it has become a major crisis.
“The scholarship requires that you will come back. It is required that you have a guarantor and in many cases, the guarantor has suffered undue hardship because when you disappear, we hold the guarantor to pay all the money expended on your behalf but that has not been effective.”
Echono said TETFund is working with stakeholders for “stringent and effective measures” to be taken against those who refused to return to the country for Nigerians to benefit from their expertise.
The Executive Secretary said TETFund might suspend foreign scholarship due to the exchange rate crisis.