Corruption fighting reforms, backlash expected- TETFund Boss, Echono

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Arc Sunny Echono, the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), has raised an alarm of a campaign of calumny against his personality, especially since he began introducing far-reaching reforms in the agency.

He said the blackmail didn’t come to him as a surprise, adding that reforms meant to block loopholes for corruption would naturally attract backlash.

Echono said this in response to allegations of contract splitting and padding levied against him since he assumed the leadership of the Fund.

He said his commitment to upholding and entrenching tenets of accountability and transparency in the Fund which made President Muhammadu Buhari appoint him has not waned, some of which he had demonstrated while being at the helm of affairs at the Federal Ministry of Education.

“I know petitions will soon start flying, and my opponents will join forces,” the TETFund boss recalled his comment when he signed the final batch of letters disengaging 37 members of the 87 members National Research Fund Screening and Monitoring Committee (NRFS & MC) for failing to diligently discharge their duties or whose roles were at best unclear.

Arc Echono had frozen, cancelled or suspended programmes and consultancies adjudged wasteful or economically disadvantageous to the Fund.

Some of those affected are licking their wounds, while a few who initially threatened legal actions have settled for renegotiation after realising their weak positions.”

According to him, the 99-man Technical Advisory Group (TAG) has been put on notice to right size for prudence and greater operational efficiency.

He expressed concerns that some aggrieved vested interests “are describing these measures as “unwholesome practices”.

Arc Echono clarified that TETFund is not a contract awarding agency on behalf of beneficiary institutions, noting that the reference to contract splitting and padding in a recent publication was baseless and incomprehensible.

“The respective institutions do the design and costing of projects. So also is the supervision and management. TETFund only monitors milestones attainments ahead of releases in tranches,” he said.

“To allege that someone who publicly distributed allocation letters “is in the habit of asking for advance payment in dollars before grants are given” is standing truth on its head. It is on record that since the resumption of duty, Arc Echono has not personally issued any grant or letter to any beneficiary institution but rather through technical departments responsible for each intervention area.”

“It is cruel to insinuate that Vice Chancellors will be happy to meet the monetary demands without complaining, and vice-chancellors will be instructed to award the contracts to anointed contractors. When people are consumed with evil and hate, logic departs. It is noteworthy that no institution or Vice Chancellor was cited to buttress or corroborate this callous claim. Is anybody hurting? Why?”

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