National Heads of Colleges of Agriculture and Related Disciplines (NACHCARD) have appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to allow colleges of agriculture to benefit from Tetfund intervention as part of tertiary Institutions in the country.
According to the TETFund Act of 2011, the agency’s scope of operation extends to all government-owned schools, including universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and special institutes for research. The agency’s source of income is the two percent education tax imposed on assessable profit of registered companies.
The decaying infrastructure in tertiary institutions became a source of concern for members of the academia, who sounded the alarm that public institutions could collapse if the situation was not arrested. Incessant industrial actions became the order of the day to force the government to provide funds for higher education.
TETFund’s establishment was seen as a breath of fresh air in managing the infrastructure and operations of tertiary institutions.
At inception, TETFund’s activities were present in all tertiary institutions, including colleges of agriculture, which are mandate research institutes. Three years later, the Act 2011 setting up the agency was amended, removing colleges of agriculture from the scheme.
Since then, the ASUU, representing the interest of universities, has been countering any move to rectify the anormaly.
But NACHCARD National Chairman, Dr. Oluyemi Akande appealing to the body yesterday in Abuja regretted that, since their erroneous removal from the intervention in 2011, the institutes have not witnessed any infrastructural and facilities developinent unlike their counterparts in universities, polytechnics and colleges of education in the country.
Akande explained: “They need to include us in what they are doing because what form the Tetfund is two percent directives from all industries in Nigeria which is what the Tetfund is using as intervention.
“They have three or four type of interventions namely: Library intervention, main intervention and research intervention, all these interventions are special interventions and we are not enjoying one.
“When you go to the universities and polytechnics you see giant structures that they can not even use in the next three years whereas we are suffering.
“We are appealing to the Federal government, let them look into our case and call us back to enjoy Tetfund interventions because that is the reason why we are not developing because there is no intervention for us.
“The law that established Tetfund says tertiary institutions and ironically, polytechnics that is under federal ministry of education, their program is been monitored by national board for technical education which is the same body that is accrediting the courses of colleges of agriculture.
“Now we are asking them to tell us the difference between us and polytechnics that is making them to separate us when we are producing the same results for our graduates.
“There is no tangible reason for excluding us rather than because we are not under the federal ministry of education.”
According to the chairman, there was also need for the government to establish private colleges of agriculture like universities and polytechnics for equal spread of views of their roles in agriculture in the country.
Stressing the need for the to greatly reduce the number of agricultural products that are lost due to lack of preservation, he called for the creation of an agriculural goods storage chain where excess products that farmers can’t eat nor sell immediately after harvest will be stored using private sector driven.
Akande maintained that agricultural institutions in Nigeria need to be strengthened with robust
research grants and interventons and increase farmer/extension agent’s ratio.
Adding: “This will tackle limiting factors in agricultural development and pave way for economic
recovery/transformation and poverty reduction in Nigeria.”
By Matthew Ogune, Abuja