States fail to access N65 billion UBEC funds
Despite the clamour for improved funding of the education sector, about N65. 580 billion Universal Basic Education (UBE) grant is yet to be accessed by the 36 states as at March 2017. Also, an additional sum of N2. 312 billion Special Education Fund (SEF) set aside for children with special needs across the states lay dormant in the coffers of the commission.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo kicked off the UBE scheme on September 30, 1999 in Sokoto State, as part of his strategy to achieve Education for All (EFA) and the education-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The UBE scheme is a nine-year basic educational programme to eradicate illiteracy, ignorance and poverty as well as stimulate and accelerate national development, political consciousness and national integration.
The UBE Act 2004 makes provision for basic education comprising of Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE), Primary and Junior Secondary Education. The financing of basic education is the responsibility of States and Local Governments but the Federal Government decided to pitch in with two per cent of its Consolidated Revenue Fund.
However, for states to fully benefit from the fund, a critical criterion was that it must provide matching grants or counterpart funding. This way, the states demonstrate commitment to projects, ensure funds are not misapplied through monitoring mechanisms included in the programme and contribute to the sustainability of the fund.
The counterpart funding arrangement simply expects a state that aims to access N1million to provide N500, 000 to the fund, which qualifies it to receive a matching grant of N1.5 million.
It is worrisome that only a few states have been able to access the funds, even when there is a dire need for funds to develop the sector.Findings from the data obtained from the commission’s website showed that of the N38.5 billion set aside for states in 2016, only N2.6 billion was accessed, while in 2015, N18. 517 billion was disbursed out of N32. 440 billion earmarked for states.
Between 2013 and 2014, out of N73. 374 billion set aside by the commission; N61. 582 billion was accessed by states while for 2011-2012, N62. 839 billion was disbursed out of N63. 842 billion budgeted for the period.
In 2016, only three out of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja provided the matching grant to access the funds. The states were Borno, which received N1. 042 billion; Nasarawa N607 million and Rivers N1. 042 billion.
In 2015, nineteen states, namely Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba and FCT accessed the funds while 28 states provided the matching grants to access the fund between 2013 and 2014.
Between 2010 and 2011, four states, Abia, Ebonyi, Ekiti and Niger did not access the funds, while the 37 remaining states provided their matching grants.
Although no matching grant is required before the disbursement of the special education fund, none of the 36 states accessed the N1.542 billion set aside in 2016 for the purpose.Of the N12, 962, 443 earmarked for states as SEF between 2011 and 2016, only N10, 649, 834 was disbursed while N2, 312, 608 remained unaccessed.
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