Sonny Echono: TETund’s New Numero Uno, by Rahma Olamide Oladosu
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), an intervention agency set up by the Federal Government to provide supplementary support to all levels of public tertiary institutions, has in the last five years been under the watch of Professor Sulaiman Elias Bogoro whose non-consecutive second tenure ends on the 18th of March 2022.
Both in his first and second coming, Bogoro dominated TETFund like a colossus and built the organization in his own image – image of integrity, transparency, restless achievements and the constant desire to break new grounds.
To carry on Bogoro’s legacy, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Sonny Echono as the new Executive Secretary of TETfund.
What do we really know about Echono and what can or will he bring to the table?
Well the new kid on the block is not so new to the education system and the Fund itself. He is not just a reverred top civil servant, he was also a super permanent secretary who was once in charge of Education.
Echono was born on the 16th of December, 1962 at Otukpo, Benue State. He had his early education at St. Mary’s Primary School, Otukpo before proceeding to Jos, then capital of Benue-Plateau State, to complete his primary and secondary education at St. Theresa’s and St. Muramba’s College respectively, after which he enrolled at the Murtala College of Arts, Science and Technology (MUCAST), Makurdi for his ‘A’ Levels/IJMB. He was admitted to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1980 to study Architecture and graduated with a BSc. (2nd Class Upper) in 1983 and an MSc. in 1985.
After his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in 1986, Echono had a brief stint with the Benue State Housing Agency before joining the Federal Civil Service in January, 1987.
Within the said period, he served in various management capacities at the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing including, Secretary, Implementation Committee on National Housing Policy – 1991 to 1995; Secretary, Special Projects Task Force – 1992 to 1995; Secretary, Committee on Lands and Housing – 1993 to 1995; Chief Executive Architect in charge of Administration of the Department – 1993 to 1994; Special Assistant to Permanent Secretary – 1994 to 1999; Head, Council Affairs and Parastatals – 2003 to 2004; Secretary, Ministerial Tenders Board – 2004 to 2005.
With the advent of procurement reforms in Nigeria, Echono was among the first set of civil servants deployed to the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit (BMPIU) or Due Process Office in February, 2015.
In 2016, he was appointed Head of Team ‘A’ with responsibility for procurement review and certification of projects for Ministries of Works and Housing, FCT Administration, Transport, State House, Defence, Police and all the Security Agencies.
His quest for personal development has seen him acquire the following additional qualifications while in Service: Postgraduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) – University of Calabar – 2002; Master of Business Administration (MBA) – Benue State University – 2004; MSc, Procurement Management – University of Turin, Italy – 2011.
Echono put in nearly 35 years of exemplary service at the epicenter of Policy Formulation and Reforms in the Nigerian Civil Service and its numerous agencies.
Echono was appointed Permanent Secretary in the Federal Civil Service in October 2014. He later served as Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (2014 – 2015), Federal Ministry of Communications (2015- 2017), and Federal Ministry of Education (2017 to 2022).
However, prior to his appointment as Permanent Secretary in October 2014, Echono served as Director of Procurement in five (5) key Ministries namely – Defence, Water Resources, Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development as well as Power.
His service to the profession of Architecture in Nigeria is equally impressive. From being Secretary of the Admissions Committee in 1991, he rose to the position of Honourary General Secretary (HGS) in November 2001. He chaired the Disciplinary Committee of the Institute for two successive terms from 2009 to 2013, when he was elected to the position of the 3rd Vice President.
He attained the pinnacle of the profession when he was elected president, Nigerian Institute of Architects in November 2019.
He also served on several Boards and Councils including – Board of Architectural Education in Nigeria (BAE), Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCN), National Environmental Standards, Regulations, Enforcement and Administration (NESREA), International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and TETFund.
The incoming TETFund boss attended several management courses and workshops at top institutions across the globe including: University of Bradford UK; Oxford University UK; University of Cambridge UK; Japan International Cooperation Agency; Japan Institute of Development Studies; Indonesia International Law Institute; American Institute of Peace and Harvard Business School, USA.
He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, Founding Member and Trustee of the Procurement Professionals Association of Nigeria.
The technocrat is a recipient of several awards of excellence and commendation by the Federal Government as well as Professional and Management Institutions. He is widely travelled and has presented over 40 papers at national and international fora.
With the above impressive resume, Echono brings to the TETFund job, a diverse wealth of experience spanning infrastructure, business administration, procurement management, ICT and in-depth mastery of the education sector. It is very certain that Echono will no doubt continue the impactful works of Bogoro.
This is a successor the outgoing TETFund’s boss would be proud of.
Rahma Olamide Oladosu is a Staff Writer with the Economic Confidential