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I have attracted more funding to Taraba State University- Prof. Vincent Tenebe

 ●Says kidnappers harassing university staff

Professor Vincent Tenebe is the Vice Chancellor of the Taraba State University, TSU Jalingo   in this interview with Taraba Truth and Fact Newspaper, the former Vice Chancellor of the National Open University said Taraba State University have potentials of becoming best University in Nigeria if adequately funded.

The last few months as been challenging for the university in terms of strikes, what is the University management doing to avert such again? 
The strike that occurs in this university some few months ago started from the national strike, and the ASUU chapter of this university decided to join the national strike to drive home the demands of academics all over the nation. Well, that strike lasted about four months after which this local chapter continued with local strike to demand for the things they were asking for even before the national strike. 
Well, we tried our best to proffer solution to their demands and I am happy now we are back from the strike and I’m also happy that both staff and students are all busy to ensure that they catch up with the time lost. On our part, we will try our best to ensure the promises made to the staff will be kept and we will provide all that they demanded for and we also encourage the government to keep to their side of the promise to ensure that we don’t have such occurrences in the future. We will try our best to ensure that we work in harmony with both staffs and students to avoid future strike because strike is not in anybody’s interest. 
The university management has been largely accused of reckless spending on your part; you are accused of travelling all over the world using the university fund; some even believes the university is in huge debt of about one billion under your watch, what’s your take on this? 
Laughs… that is funny because whenever I travelled, I travel on official duty. And if I’m on official duty, it is my right to use my due official entitlement to carry out official duties which is of advantage to the university. And here is Taraba State University, every major funding we need comes from Abuja and if I don’t go and participate in the meetings of Vice Chancellors, Federal Ministry of Education, Central Bank of Nigeria or TETFUND and all the others, we can’t get the funds we need, have attracted more funding, TETFUND projects and opportunities to the university since I came on board. 
In all over the country, there is no state university that can boast of funding all the requirements of the university by the state alone. There is lots of federal government participation. So, when I travel from here, I go to Abuja and that is all. I don’t go on any personal journey with official funds. Go and find out from the records. I do go on personal journey which I use my personal money because I earn my salary. So, I don’t travel for nothing. Whenever I travelled, there is a reason. And of course, no one enjoys travelling about because there are more risks associated with travelling than staying in one place. So, those are false accusations that hold no water at all. 
Sir, a lot of people believed the university has been run aground with allegations of debt running into billion under your watch. What’s your take? 
What evidence do they have that we have such debt? They are just spreading rumors. They should come to the books and say this is the debt and the person I owe. When I took over this university, of course there was debt and I tell you there is no organization including the state and the federal government that is not having debt. There’s no business that does not have assets and liabilities. So there is no business that is going on that you will not find some debt and some credit. But to come out to say we are in debt of such an amount? I will want to say that is a false accusation and such is malicious in nature which cannot be proved. Anyone that wants to say such should come out and show us the facts.
What is the financial status of the University, in terms of funding from the state government and its IGR - is Taraba State University broke?
Actually, let me inform you that in the whole of Nigeria, there is no university that can tell you it is adequately funded and that is the reason why ASUU has been on strike. And, of course, this country like so many others, cannot say we have all the funds that we need for our developmental needs. So we normally utilize what is available to get what we can get. 
When I took over this university, I met it in a state that was lacking in funds. All the funding requirements even by the act of the university were not being implemented. But I took over and I am still managing with the funds that I have. Like for example, it is in the ACT establishing this university that 5% percent of the total allocation of local governments should be sent to this university to fund it. But since I came here, it has never been implemented and that is giving us a lot of predicament. 
Even before I came, the total salary of the university was not fully sent by the government and we kept augmenting because we cannot halt work solely because we didn’t get all that we want. So, I don’t think we have any problem managing what we have now but we are only pleading and praying to get more, work hard and generate some income. There is no much IGR in this university because we are not in a business environment in Jalingo. But notwithstanding, we are trying to bring up some projects that can generate IGR. I always tell people not refer to charges from students as IGR because all of that are tied to certain activities. 
If they are paying for accommodation, you must provide it, if they are paying for examination, you must administer it and if they are paying for ICT usage, library facilities, identification cards, you must provide them. We provide a caution deposit and you have to return the caution deposit. So, when you look at all the charges of students, they are tied. But people think that because students are paying all these, we should use that money to pay the salaries of staffs? No! This is a public university and all public universities are supposed to be funded fully by the government because that is the responsibility of the government to the people. And that is why everyone’s children, who are qualified to join any public university, no matter your position, are given equal chance. So, it is not true that we are charging and utilizing the money recklessly. 
There’s this allegation that you diverted over N70million TETFUND grants for training lecturers aboard?
Go and find out, I have staffs that are under TETFUND sponsorship and you have to be qualified and get a university that is recognized by the federal government before you can be sponsored. And all sponsored candidates; the money is to be given to them to them in bits, not at once. The money will be given as you progress. Some of the staffs, not only in this university though, want the money to be given to them in bulk which is not possible. Some people who were given such money in the past only took it and failed to go for the studies. So, what is obtainable now is that if you did not meet the requirement, there won’t be any disbursement of money. 
Some people are in that condition. When you are in for a course of three years and you are given N10million for the whole, which means about N3million for a session, and you are given that, yet you still want to collect the money for the next session which is yet to commence. We have not diverted any money. In fact, we have some staff that went abroad even without TETFUND approval and I met them on ground. I provided money meant for other things entirely to salvage them and I have worked with them to that stage. So, where is the money that was diverted? 
Money can’t be diverted from TETFUND’s account because we do have TETFUND auditors who come to observe our books regularly and they have not written anything to say we have diverted the money, so all these are just fake rumors by people without facts. 
It is also believed that you are employing staff without recourse to extant laws, thus it has increase the wage bill of the university, particularly it was alleged that you are employing your old retired professor friends. What’s your reaction to this?
Let me tell you, this university is short of staffs. In all our departments, we don’t have enough staff. Secondly, nobody gets a job here without recourse to due process. When I am in need of staff and need to employ somebody on temporary basis, we still ensure that person is qualified and goes through an interview with the head of departments and management, then we give such persons temporary employment, with the plan that he will face a well constituted interview panel of the council and if he is found qualified, his appointment will be confirmed and if not, he would leave. So, I have not employed anybody without due process or someone who is not qualified. In fact, I have vacancy for employment and the only thing stopping us is the lack of funding. 
So, to say that we are employing people without due process is nauseating. See, we have a lot of people that from Taraba State who are looking for and qualified for the job and we have the vacancy but lacking the funds. So, this rumor of employing people without recourse to due process is not true.
But sir, what of the allegations leveled against you that you are employing your own friend? 
Go and look at our employment records and the records of our employed staffs, you’d see the state and local government they come from. I am here and I’m from Plateau State and I have not employed one person from my local government. Most of the employees here are from Taraba State. It is only when we cannot find people from Taraba state to occupy the vacant position, which is when we extend such to other people. Like now, I need a professor of physics and we don’t have any from Taraba state. Interestingly, I have not gotten anyone from Nigeria, so if you can give me an application of professor of physics, I can provide immediate employment. We also need professors in Engineering and Health Sciences and so on.  
The university is not where we can operate based on quota system. The term university connotes a universal entity where anybody from any part of the world who is qualified can be employed. This is not political entity where you must employ people who are not qualified. So, these are just false allegations. People who are pending this rumor do not understand the business of universities and that is why I excused them. 
It’s over two years you took over what would you describe as milestones you’ve achieved in the university?
So many of them are there to see because I don’t like singing my praises as I would have proffer that you ask some of my staff to say this. This is like singing my own praise and if I want to tell you what I have achieved now, I might even underreport myself. 
But I can tell you quickly that when I came to this university, I met only one functional professor on ground which is Bakare Aliyu, the professor of Agriculture and the other professor was on sabbatical. And as you must know, we can’t run a university without professors. The NUC recommendations state that you must have at least minimum of six professors per departments and we have about 35 departments in this university with only one professor. That is not done. So, I have been able to attract professors either on permanent, temporary, sabbatical or visiting basis.  
Also, I have raised the numbers of professors from one to 52, and that has given this university a quality space in Nigeria. We have been able to ensure that we provide the right leadership for our university. How could you run a university with Assistant lecturers as Head of Departments? Assistant lecturer position in any university is a training position, so why will such be heading a department? How can a blind man lead other blind men? That is not done. Meanwhile, I met 13 HOD’s who were Assistant lecturers and I had to change them and that provided some bad names for me because some people were just proud that they were heads of departments when they were not even properly trained. So, I sent them on further trainings because I don’t want them to produce substandard graduates. 
What are the major challenges of the University?
Well, the major challenge of the university like any other university is funding. Then, the other challenge is that we are in an environment that is not prone to business, so we are not able to also use our intellect to generate the funds that we need. The other challenge is that we are in shortage of qualified staffs, especially academic staffs. Then, I can tell you that even the staff that are on ground, some people have brainwashed them and they don’t want to come to work as they should and when we try to correct them, they run to people like you in the media and say they are infringing on their right. How can you gain employment and you won’t want to work? And when your supervisor asks you to come to work and you’d say he hates you, or you use the ethnicity or religious biasness in that regard. 
Meanwhile, we have hardworking and dedicated staffs in this university that has never gotten into trouble with management nor anybody and we reward them for that. Same way we have others who are just like what we call the cattle-eaglets, who just want to get paid but don’t want to work for the pay. So, these are some of the challenges, and we hope we’ll be able to overcome them.
Another challenge is security, and that is even all over Nigeria. My staffs are always harassed by kidnappers, I’ve had two of them kidnapped from their houses and also we’ve had attacks from hoodlums. So, we need funds to tackle the challenges and make sure the environment is secured by employing adequate security to help secure the institution. Without security, there are no way the staffs and students can work if they are not secured. 
What’s your call to the state government on issues of insecurity? 
We can only appeal to the state government and all stakeholders to help us make this university one of the best in the country and if not the whole of Africa. And the only way we can do that is to bear the pain by providing adequate funding that will help us to produce the best graduate that we need and the best university environment. 
You see, university environment is where we build the mind and future of the students. It’s where people are molded for the future. If a student is groomed in a dirty and ramshackle environment, when he goes out, that is what he is going to produce. But when you bring out a student in a corporate and well ideal condition, that is where you are going to get people who will give you good product because garbage in garbage out they say. So, we need the state government, private organizations and other important citizens of this state and country to help us because I know if we sacrifice a little, we will have enough to produce the best from the university. 

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