The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has said it provided about N4 billion for the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) to develop its permanent site.
The Executive Secretary of TETFund, Prof. Sulaiman Elias Bogoro, made the disclosure in Abuja at the 2nd International Conference of Social Sciences with the theme “Africa and its Diaspora: Opportunities, Challenges and the Future”.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the two-day conference on Diaspora is coming few days after 23 Nigerians appeared on the death row in Saudi Arabia and another 80 involved in biggest internet fraud in the U.S.
The TETFund boss, who was the chairman of the occasion regretted the development, noting that Nigerians in the Diaspora had contributed so much to the development of the country, especially in the education sector.
“So, I want to say that for us Nigerians and indeed the rest of Africa, it makes sense that we make a focus on the issue of Diaspora.
“Unfortunately, the issues of Diaspora about many African countries particularly our own Nigeria, the references have been more in recent times about the negativities; it is very sad.
“I believe that if we love our country, there are many things we can do to ensure that we make a difference in ourselves,” Bogoro said.
According to Bogoro, TETFund provided NOUN with the required funding knowing that the institution will benefit Nigerians within and outside the country with the type of courses it offers.
“This is what happens when some of us have the privilege of making approvals that translate to tangible outcomes.
“That is exactly what I did with the approval of the board of trustees of TETFund in February 2015 that we made available in two months N4 billion to develop the permanent site of this university.
“I may be given credit for it but I know I acted on behalf of TETFund and I know that another person would have chosen to take the money elsewhere.
“I recognised that NOUN had a challenge of space in Lagos and we decided to do what we did and today we are operating at the convocation square of the university here in Abuja,” Bogoro said.
He also said that NOUN and the University of Abuja would get a special allocation from TETFund between January and February 2020 to ensure the universities match their foreign counterparts.
Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of NOUN Prof. Abdalla Adamu had said the essence of the conference was to forge academic unity and also blend ideas of change and transformation as well as the application of the results of scientific research in Diaspora issues.
“This is to create a bridge of knowledge transfer, resolve brain-drain and address the improvement on the economic stability of African countries.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that any form of wealth and knowledge transfer by Diasporans to home and host countries which is part of the expected outcome of their migration should lead to the process of generating wealth and knowledge.
“Most importantly, the conference is expected to come up with policies to assist home countries in tracking down the emigrants to their host countries,” Adamu said.
Also, the Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, NOUN, Dr Ganiat Adesina-Uthman, expressed optimism that the conference would bring a paradigm shift on how Africans and Nigerians in the Diaspora can positively contribute to the development of their home and countries of residence.
“This year’s conference theme is timely when the happenings in the continents, from Africa, especially West Africa countries through the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean to Europe, which is full of nightmares and peril than greener pastures is considered.
“High unemployment rate in the African continent and in Nigeria, coupled with the uncertain economic, political instability and low standard of living have led to the creation of an infamous ‘modern slavery market’ where illegal immigrants end up being sold.
“It has also led to different economic migration programmes through which skill and semi-skilled workers are evaporating from Africa – their home countries — to develop other continents.
“It is, therefore, imperative that Africans intensify researches on Diaspora issues to formulate policy, enforce anti-trafficking laws and promote Africans in Diaspora who have excelled in their residence countries,” Adesina-Uthman said.
The Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, represented by the Secretary of the commission, Dr Yakubu Sule Bassi, said efforts were being made to correct the negative impressions about the country and Africa in general.
She noted that the present administration had committed so much to ensure cooperation between Nigerians in the Diaspora and authorities of their countries of residence as well as the government in their home countries.