The Vice-Chancellor of Abia State University, Uturu, Prof Uchenna Ikonne have reacted to the alleged mismanaged N5 billion TETFUND allocated to the University from the Federal Government.
Speaking on FLO-FM with Michael Oni on the platform of Pinnacle of all discussions on Monday, he stated that every university is entitled to intervention which TETFUND is part of it.
The Professor of Optometry disclosed that every released TETFUND is not released to the Vice-Chancellor but managed by the governing council through the direction of the Vice-Chancellor and monitored by the TETFUND organisers.
He said, “Every university is entitled to an intervention which TETFUND is part of. Apart from releasing a fund to a University, TETFUND follows up to make sure that the money is utilized for that particular project. If a particular stage of the project is not completed, they don’t release further fund for the next stage of the project. This is how they work. During our time, we applied for a high impact fund, which we got N3 billion and it was announced in the Senate. The projects are going on in the three campuses in Uturu, Aba and Umuahia right now and have not been completed. For some people to say that it was mismanaged means that the person does not know how it’s funded. We have never gotten a sponsored research but it happened during my time and we got three through TETFUND and this has been utilized. ABSU has become a hub of research. Going through the laboratories, it can testify the amount of work we have put into it.”
Ikonne also stated that the COVID-19 pandemic prevention fee was announced after due consultation from the governing council of the institution, the student union government and the State Government, the pressure to resume school and also meet the approved standard set by the National Centre for Disease Control.
“The pressure to resume the school administration caused the announcement of the Pandemic Prevention Fee. Remember, we were about to write exams for the first semester of the academic year when the COVID-19 pandemic started. There was a consultation from all angles and a collective agreement by all organisation concerned. Unfortunately, it was received like that. The council consulted very well before the announcement was made. I take the responsibility for it. I’m not shying away from it.”
Speaking on the salary arrears of the Institution, Prof. Ikonne stated that the pandemic affected the revenue of the school since Students were at home.
Recall that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has often commended the management of the Abia State University, Uturu on how it manages to pay salaries of staff without the involvement of the State Government.
Prof. Ikonne stated that the wage bill gotten by the University is not beyond what it gets but below what other Universities gets in the country.
He stated that the Subvention the Institution gets ‘it’s as regular as the government can meet up all it’s a commitment not just to the school but road and citizens.’
“We go for budget every financial year, we state the specific planning, expense and income we can realize from each department including the employment of the staff. They are aware of what we earn and spend.”
He reiterated that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu is not a stranger to the Institution as he was a member of the staff and is familiar with the condition and plight of the school having to be ahead of the department and a lecturer.
Ikonne also disclosed that the tuition fees and the school policies of the Institution are always done by the governing council of the school with the approval of the State Government.
He also assured the students that the school management is doing everything possible to put things right and avoid putting their lives at risk.
“We have to put things right. People are testing positive at the National Youth Service Corps camp. We can’t bring students without putting things in order. We are working on bringing them back,” he concluded.