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UBEC decries slow pace of accessing N41bn funds by states

By Iyabo Lawal (Lagos), Lawrence Njoku (Enugu), Murtala Adewale (Kano), Adegbuyi Ayodele (Ekiti), Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan), Odun Edward (Ilorin), Agosi Todo (Calabar), Rauf Oyewole (Bauchi) and Uzoma Nzeagwu (Awka)
15 April 2021   |   4:20 am
The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) has disclosed that about N41.06 billion matching grant has remained unaccessed by the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory.

Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr Hamid Bobboyi

• Enugu yet to access N2.5billion • Kano accessed N7.7bn matching grants in three years
• Oyo owes no counterpart funding • Cross Rivers blames delay on COVID-19

The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) has disclosed that about N41.06 billion matching grant has remained unaccessed by the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory.

Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr Hamid Bobboyi said out of N184.8 billion set aside by the commission, N143 billion matching grant was accessed by states between 2017 and 2020,

While no state has accessed the 2020 matching grant, Bobboyi said Ogun State was yet to access its 2018 allocation while Niger, Ogun, Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi, Imo and Edo are yet to provide matching grants for 2019.

Bobboyi, who lamented the several challenges confronting basic education, said for instance, out of N29.7 billion appropriated for capital projects, N1.3 billion for federal teachers scheme; N2.8 billion for zonal intervention projects, and N25. 6 billion for constituency projects (capital) in the 2020 budget, only N29. 75 billion was released to the commission as at December 2020.

Bobboyi said with the capital releases, the commission awarded contracts to the tune of N27.5 billion for 2,895 constituency projects across the country, adding that 939 of such projects have been completed while 1,956 are ongoing.

He said the projects cut across classroom construction, renovation and supplies of educational items.He said: “Thirty states and FCT have implemented 2018 matching grant projects; six states, namely Anambra, Imo, Kaduna, Kwara, Ogun and Plateau are yet to implement, eight states have implemented 2019 matching grants projects, while 28 states and FCT are yet to implement. In 2020, no state implemented the matching grants projects.”

MEANWHILE, Chairman, Ekiti State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Femi Akinwumi, said the state has paid all its counterpart funds and ready to access year 2020 funds.

Akinwunmi said: “Anytime from now, we are going to Abuja to access our fund. If not for the action plan that we are doing, we would probably be in Abuja by now. It is a matter of just going there to sign for our funds. We don’t have any outstanding. In fact we are having it up front till 2021. We paid N7.6 billion to offset what we met on ground, we inherited 2016, 2017 and 2018 from previous administration and it even dovetailed into 2021. We only need to add N100 million to what we already have there and we are good to go.”
KANO State has received over N7.7billion Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) matching grant between 2018 and 2020 for infrastructural development and provision of basic instructional materials.

The SUBEB Chairman, Dr. Danlami Hayyo said Kano has not defaulted in the provision of its counterpart funding to access UBEC grant.         
However, despite accessing UBEC funds, tales of infrastructural deficit in Kano’s public schools remain a critical challenge in the state.

Issues of overcrowded classrooms, dilapidated structures as well as inadequate furniture and instructional materials are noticeable in public primary schools, especially in rural communities.  

Hayyo noted that an upsurge in school enrolment was responsible for the overwhelming pressure on existing facilities. He said: “Kano has actually received grants for 2018, 2019 and 2020 from UBEC. We received a cumulative sum of N6.3billion for 2018 and N2019, while N1.4billion was earmarked for Kano in 2020. Infact, the matching grant for 2021 has been budgeted for and as soon as we receive the cash backing, we shall access the fund. We are presently working on a project from the 2020 grant and contractors would be deployed as soon as government approves the contract.

“But our major challenge in Kano is increasing number of enrolments, which is threatening the available infrastructure. Being the most populous state in the country, Kano has the highest number of school enrolment in Nigeria. The increase is also due to government’s policy on free and compulsory education, which has put enrolment at 3.8 million from initial 1.5 million,” he added.

The UBEC chief said construction of more classrooms and renovation of existing ones did not make much impact due to existing infrastructural deficit.

Dr. Hayyo was however optimistic that with government’s commitment to education, substantial resources would be devoted to education infrastructure to mitigate deficit.

OYO State government said it has paid its counterpart fund up to 2021.The government said it is waiting for approval from UBEC to release matching grants for 2020 and 2021. 

SUBEB Chairman, Dr. Nureni Adeniran, said the state accessed funds up to 2019, while counterpart funds for 2020 and 2021 have been paid and only waiting for approval from UBEC. 

Adeniran said the state used accessed funds to build classrooms and increase enrollment. He added that the expected money would be used to boost infrastructure to bring more children back to school.

ABOUT N2.5 billion is yet to be accessed by Enugu State government. According to the State Chairman of Universal Basic Education Board, Chief Ikeje Asogwa, the amount covers a fraction of 2019 to 2021. He, however, disclosed that the state executive council had given approval to the board to access the funds, adding that the process of remitting counterpart fund had started.

Asogwa stated that as at last year, the state had an outstanding N4.3 billion, which the current administration inherited although part of the money had been accessed since the new government came on board.

He disclosed that the utilisation of accessed funds had been in batches, while blaming lack of funds for the inability of the state to pay its counterpart funding.

Asogwa said: “We are not resting on our oars because we know the value of such funds. The governor is committed to ensuring that whatever is due to the state is drawn as soon as possible.”

Giving an account of what the state government had done so far, the SUBEB chief said the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has carried out 1,355 verifiable projects in various primary and secondary schools across 17 local government areas of the state, to improve learning condition of students.

Besides recruiting 7,030 primary and secondary school teachers, Asogwa said the state government also procured and distributed over 48,000 classroom furniture and other learning tools for school children and teachers across the state.
He said government supplied and installed computers to 490 primary and secondary schools; science equipment to 151 secondary schools, constructed and renovated classroom blocks, offices and hostels, among others, under its post primary school management board.
While six school projects were executed in Nomeh community, the SUBEB chief said Aguobia -Nomeh Community Secondary School is presently captured in the list of projects earmarked for execution this season.
Chief Asogwa disclosed that despite decayed educational infrastructure met on ground at inception in 2015, the state government, in collaboration with UBEC, has transformed the sector through enhanced learning quality, conducive environment and productivity
He said: “To ensure quality teaching, the state government ensured that all renovated or newly constructed schools were fully equipped with learners’ chairs and lockers; teachers’ tables and chairs; marker boards and ceiling fans; instructional materials/teacher’s guide; and sporting equipment, among others.”

Asogwa said he recently led a team on inspection tour of different schools on a fact-finding mission for enhanced teaching and learning output, and reassured that their findings and recommendations would be duly followed to enhance learning outcome.
SECRETARY, Cross River State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) who identified himself as Cyril said the present administration had accessed backlog of funds from 2012 to 2019. He stated that the board is working towards adjusting its action plan before accessing 2020 and 2021 funds.

“We have accessed our matching grant up to 2019. Although the state was unable to access the grant from 2012 but when the present administration came on board in 2016, we had access to the backlog from 2012 to 2016. However, with the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic, 2020 grant was slashed. We are presently trying to adjust our action plan,” the source said.

CHAIRMAN, Anambra state Universal Basic Education Board (ASUBEB), Chief Patrick Ugbaja said the state had accessed UBEC funds up to 2018. Ugbaja said the state submitted its work plan and other necessary requirements promptly to enable it access funds.

He said: “Anambra state has accessed grants up to 2018, awarded contracts for renovation of schools and construction of new ones across the state. Some of these projects included renovation of Nkworji Migrant Farmers School in Anambra West Council Area, block of classrooms at Community High School, Nando, in Anambra East, and Community Secondary School, Ubuluisiuzo, Ihiala.”

He however lamented that the state is yet to pay its matching grant for 2019 due to lack of funds.
BAUCHI State Universal Basic Education Board said it has paid all outstanding counterpart funds to 2019, while government has released 2020 and 2021 matching grants.

Chairman of the Board who spoke through his Public Relations Officer, Mr. Muhammad Abdullahi said N1.5 billion 2019 grant was used to build new classrooms and refurbished old ones, while the board also provided furniture and writing materials for pupils and teachers, in addition to boreholes and toilets.

According to Abdullahi, the state has constructed about 115 two and three classroom blocks with office and store, while another 222 classrooms have been renovated. 

He said: “As far as Bauchi is concerned, our counterpart funding is up to date. In 2019, we were able to access over N1.5billion. The Governor has also approved 2020 and 2021 counterpart funds. We built 15 VIP toilets, 40 hand-pump boreholes, 11,950 primary school furniture, 5,500 junior secondary school furniture, 698 staff furniture and 790 magnetic whiteboards.”

THE inability of Kwara State to access matching grants under UBEC could not be divorced from alleged apathy of successive governments to pay counterpart fund, which usually serves as prerequisite for obtaining the grants Newly appointed SUBEB Chairman, Prof Sheu Raheem Adaramaja, disclosed this to The Guardian in Ilorin.

The state SUBEB had been enmeshed in series of alleged financial misappropriation, which led to the prosecution of some officials suspected in the mess.

According to Adaramaja: “The reason why the state is yet to access matching grant for this year is because over the years, especially between 2014 and 2019, the counterpart funding had been on hold.
But the incumbent governor had paid N450 million counterpart fund, which is a requirement to access the grant.

“As a result, the state government was able to access the fund, which gave birth to the official bid opening ceremony held on March 29, 2021 for years 2014 to 2019 UBEC intervention projects. However, 2020 matching grants cannot be accessed without executing previous funds; that explained why 2020 matching grants is yet to be accessed,” Adaramaja stated.

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