The Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Sonny Echono, has described as alarming the number of Nigerian university lecturers studying abroad under TETFund sponsorship and have absconded.
Echono said TETFund would make the absconded lecturers refund money expended on them or be repatriated.
He spoke on Monday on the sidelines of the TETFund Management Retreat held in Makurdi,
He said TETFund devised the two ways, which he described as soft and hard measures, to ensure that the university lecturers who absconded were sanctioned.
He said, “I don’t want to give a figure because it’s alarming; it’s very sad that this opportunity that is being given is being abused.
“The figure is comprehensive, that is why it’s a bit large because there are others who have come back home but did not complete the minimum of their bond before deciding to relocate or what is called ‘japa syndrome’.
“We have a database now, which we are refining each time because the institutions are the ones submitting the report. Although it is a difficult thing to get accurate reports, for some, it’s not that they absconded but they exceeded their course period.
“But some have extensions in their programme; we have a very good idea and the number is not encouraging and I can tell you that even the security agencies are also becoming interested and they are looking at that.”
Speaking on the sanctions, he said, “What we are doing, first as a soft landing, we are requiring anybody who has benefitted in our programme and does not come back, to make the full refund of the money expended in training them.
“The other option, which is the harder one, is that we are collaborating with our embassies, the embassies of the country where they are, and the institutions.
“You will have recalled recently when I met with foreign institutions that will sponsor our candidate, I made it a condition for further patronage that those of our scholars who went to such institutions and did not return, must provide that information to the relevant authorities to their own equivalent of their internal affairs because they’re staying on visas that have not expired or does not permit them to seek employment.
“This means that they have abused their visa and they are subject to migration that is the next step we are going to take and we believe they will do the honorable thing and take the first option.
He further said that TETFund had disbursed over N400bn to tertiary institutions in the country.