States and abandoned N48bn UBE funds

It has been acknowledged universally that education is the foundation upon which any long-lasting development can be built. This is why any country that neglects education is underdeveloped, stagnant and crisis-ridden. UNESCO, having taken cognizance of this role of education in growth and development, has recommended 26 per cent as the minimum budget on education for every nation. While the developed nations have advanced to their present position by adhering strictly to this requirement, many developing nations including Nigeria are still struggling to understand the wisdom in that prescription.
Nigeria does accord priority to education except in the 1960s where regional governments invested heavily on education. Indeed, the Northern Region budgeted 56 per cent on education. The federal budget on education is about 6 per cent today.Low budget to education is a way of denying the masses the opportunity of acquiring education. That is why the role of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) is commendable. The UBEC “disbursement of matching grant” must be accessed by states that can provide “counterpart funding”.
Despite efforts to improve access to basic education, N47.99 billion UBE fund is reportedly lying idle in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) because some state governments have refused to provide counterpart funding, which is a requisite for accessing the funds.From 2005 to 2013, N238.53 billion was provided by the federal government, as a matching grant allocation to the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Of this figures, N190.53 billion was accessed as disbursement of matching grant to states that were able to provide counterpart funding. The states that top the list of defaulters are Ebonyi N3.38billion, Akwa Ibom N2.75 billion, Cross River N2.75 billion, Enugu N2.11 billion, Anambra N2.10 billion, Plateau N2.07 billion and Benue N2 billion. In 2011 three states – Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Ebonyi – defaulted. In 2012, the number of defaulters increased to 13 states as Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Benue, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Kogi, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo and Plateau made the list.In 2013, only Adamawa, Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto and Zamfara states could provide their counterpart funding. Surprisingly 31 states and the FCT did not access matching grant.
This lukewarm attitude of the defaulting states and the FCT has been a source of concern to the Federal Ministry of Education. Expectedly, the Supervising Minister of Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike, in a speech to the 11th quarterly meeting of UBEC management with the executive chairmen of states Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) in Osogbo, Osun state, described the trend as worrisome. The minister, who was represented by the Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr. Dikko Suleiman, noted that both conditional matching grant and non-conditional special education fund from UBEC have been neglected by the states and the FCT.
Policymakers and governors of defaulting states should be held responsible by their people for shortchanging them in the drive towards giving every citizen basic education.It goes to show that the affected states and FCT do not give education a pride of place. They are lukewarm towards the programme because children of the rich, top politicians and highly-placed government officials, such as governors and ministers, do not attend public schools. It may also be a matter of negligence and incompetence on the part of the people in charge of the affairs of the affected states.The failure to access this fund is gradually killing basic education in the affected states and FCT. We urge the FCT and the states concerned to wake up from their slumber and do the right thing by accessing the fund.

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