Japa Syndrome; 137 Students sponsored abroad for Scholarships absconded — Federal Govt
Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), Mr Sonny Echono, has said more than 137 students sponsored abroad by the fund absconded.
Echono disclosed this on Tuesday while addressing the House of Representatives Ad-hoc committee investigating the alleged mismanagement of N2.3tn tertiary education tax by TETFund.
He said the scholars who were sponsored by TETFund for “higher education” abroad refuse to return to the country after completing their programmes, adding that stringent measures would be put in place to curb future happenings.
The Executive Secretary said, “Some of the scholars that have been sponsored, unpatriotically when they go, they enjoy our scholarship, acquire a higher degree, then refuse to come back, it has become a major crisis.
“The scholarship requires that you will come back. It is required that you have a guarantor and in many cases, the guarantor has suffered undue hardship because when you disappear, we hold the guarantor to pay all the money expended on your behalf but that has not been effective.”
According to Echono, TETFund is collaborating with stakeholders for “stringent and effective measures” to be taken against those who refuse to return to the country for Nigerians to benefit from their expertise.
“We believe that in a system where we work with our embassies and the institutions, we can enforce the repayment for those who insist they will not come back,” he said.
TETFund boss added such scholars who refuse to return to Nigeria after enjoying the sponsorship from the country would be declared fugitives, henceforth, except they repay the money expended on academic programmes.
Echono said, “We will write to the embassies and they will make it available to those countries and they will not be able to get jobs. They will be seen as fugitives of law from their countries.
“We may have to take that hard stand because the numbers are alarming. We just checked about 40 institutions and over 137 absconders and the review is ongoing.
“It is a huge number that we cannot afford and so we will be seeking your support to strengthen some of the existing regulations to ensure that those who benefit from this programme must come back.
“We are not against people looking for greener pastures but do so on your own, not through our scholarship or our sponsorship.”
The Executive Secretary said TETFund may suspend foreign scholarship due to the exchange rate crisis.
Echono said that some of the taxes are paid to TETFund in foreign currencies at the account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria but when fees are to be paid for scholars abroad, the apex bank maintains on TETFUND sourcing Forex by itself.