The Federal Government says it has expended the sum of N3.8 billion on stranded Nigerian scholars abroad in the past few years.

The Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Arc. Sonny Echono stated this on Thursday in Abuja when he received the House of Representatives Committee on TETFund and other Services who were on an oversight visit to the Fund.

“We have taken care of 1500 scholars with a total of N3.8 billion expended.
We identify a cut-off point for those who will be eligible for the scholarship.”

On the purported delayed payment of the scholarship, Echono explained that in the wake of forex increase, a lot of scholars from all over the world, UK, Malaysia and other cried out as it were and the petitions went to the National Assembly,Villa, Ministry of Education and even to TETFund.

“We were happy that the response was very positive and that was why we were able to secure the President’s approval and do what we called the bail out or assistance. We did observe that part of the challenge”, he said.

“In the past, each time we send the funding to the institutions, we send money directly to the schools and it is the responsibility of the institutions to now remit to the students.

However, for illegitimate and legitimate reasons, l transfers to central bank”, he added.

The Executive Secretary, commended the Onuoha led committee for intervening in the payment of education tax by summoning commercial bank executives.

He said there had been a rise in education tax collection from 2.5 percent to 3 percent, which has to do with the efficiency of collection.

He said the collection from education tax in 2020 was N257 billion, and by 2021, the fund received a sharp decline in the tax collection of N185.5 billion.

He added that the collection rose to 328.8 billion in 2022 and 725 billion in 2023, respectively.

Echono added that before now, Nigeria was not doing well in the area of research grants.

He, however, added that efforts had been made as Nigeria has now moved from the 9th position to the 7th position in the African research grant.

He lamented that the high exchange rate had reduced the number of scholars the fund trains in its interventions.

He said that remittances to scholars in the past were not too good, adding that many of the institutions came back to us saying it takes a lot of processes to get money from the Central Bank.”

“But we now pay directly to the institution as part of our intervention. So CBN now transfers in bulk to different institutions for those scholars.

Earlier, the Chairman of the committee, Hon Mariam Onuoha, frowned at the high rate of unassessed fund by the beneficiary institutions noting that, oftentimes, the problem was not making law but implementing it.

Accordingly to her, government signed the Act of Parliament into law and the beneficiary institutions await these interventions, however there are guidelines to the affected interventions.