Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has set aside the first tranche of N15 billion to fast-track the commencement of construction of the National Library of Nigeria building project.
The executive secretary of TETFund, Sonny Echono, disclosed this when he received in audience, the executive members of Nigerian Library Association, led by its president, Professor Innocent Akocha, in his office in Abuja.
Work on the National Library had been stalled for years due to inadequate funding, with over N50 billion needed for its completion according to the current evaluation requirements.
Echono said the fund had put all plans in place for the completion of the building, adding that it has conveyed its readiness to provide the funds to the ministry as soon as the Federal Executive Council assents to it.
“On our own part, we have set aside the first tranche of about 15 billion already in our coffers to be deployed as soon as the approval from the reversed cost is granted by the Federal Executive Council”, he further explained.
He emphasised the importance of library, saying, “for us in the tertiary education, library is where learning takes place, including research, teaching materials and resources that students access to improve themselves are all deposited for record purposes. Library is usually the center of any academic institution.”
The executive secretary commended the association for its tenacity in ensuring that library is given adequate recognition in the national affairs and also for the various programmes the association organises to promote literacy and reading culture in Nigeria.
While responding to the association’s request on the upward review of funds, Arc Echono further stated that, “when the new Board of Trustees of TETFund is appointed, we will look at your request and see how we reflect the convergence, as this is an area, we are trying to accord higher priority. I believe this will translate into a direct increase of funding for libraries.”
He reiterated that every academic institution must update their subscriptions to identify resources that would keep students at the cutting-edge, noting more often, individual students have more current journals than the departments or the institution, an anomaly which, must change as the nation moves to embrace knowledge-driven society.
He further assured the delegation that TETFund will continue to partner with the association as library is the only place that teaches every subject.
In his remarks, Akocha informed the gathering that Arc. Echono, with the support of the minister of education, Mal. Adamu Adamu, was the brain behind the initiative for the completion of the National Library Building through deployment of TETFund resources, after presidential approval was granted.
He eulogised Echono and expressed strong belief that he will bring his wealth of experience to bear in his new assignment as the TETFund chief executive. He recalled the year 2020 when the executive secretary received the association’s most prestigious award which is the highest award given to non-librarians.
He appreciated the fund’s intervention activities, saying, “When it comes to Tertiary Education in this country, TETFund has been doing very well for us and we want to say thank you.” He further appealed to the Arc Echono to use his position to push for an upward review of the library intervention in tertiary institutions for beneficiary institutions.