Failure of states to access UBEC fund
For six years, Kwara State in North Central Nigeria, failed to access N7 billion periodic allocation received from the nation’s consolidated revenue through the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, for the purpose of developing primary and junior secondary schools.
With an estimated population of 84,246 out-of-school children, Kwara is projected to have 418, 237 school-age children from age 6-11, which underscores the need to expand school facilities to accommodate more enrolments.
Also complicit to starving their educational systems of essential funds for development are Anambra with N4.2 billion un-accessed funds, while Enugu had N4.3 billion, Abia N3.8 billion, and Plateau N3.1 billion. Across the 36 states and FCT, N73 billion lies with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, un-accessed.
According to UBEC’s 2018 National Personnel Audit, NPA, of Public and Private Basic Education Institutions in Nigeria, the projected national population of school-age children from age 6-11 is 40,841,946 with 10,193,918 still out of school.
While funding remains a serious problem to Nigeria’s educational development, the lack of political will by federating units to proportionately deploy resources, attract and enable alternative funding to schools, leaves the system precariously trapped in low quality and inadequate access.
As the country’s population of school age children increases, efforts by states to boost enrolments in basic schools requires a commensurate expansion of both public and private facilities to forestall overstretching existing ones. Failure to take this critical step had accounted for overcrowded classrooms, dilapidated infrastructures and an overwhelmed system.
We are therefore concerned that the cradle of the nation’s educational system lies prone to an appalling deficit of basic infrastructure, teachers, and instructional materials, whereas public officials display reprehensible reluctance in accessing available resources.
Equally worrisome is the fact that the essence of governance which is to ensure the welfare and security of citizens is being defeated through inactive policies that allow a poor educational system, widespread poverty, unemployment and insecurity.
The Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr Hamid Bobboyi, was precise when he told members of the House Committee on Basic Education and Services that the figure of un-accessed fund was high because the 2019 funds were actually due for access by state governments from 31st December 2019.
But it beggars belief that states with allocations from 2014 were still on the list when the federal government had assured the nation that counterpart funds, which were the bane of access to UBEC allocation, would be deducted at source during Paris Club disbursements.
UBEC’s policy for accessing state grants requires each state to pay in an equal amount of counterpart fund, which Bobboyi disclosed that 10 states had lodged their 50 per cent matching grant but were unable to access the cash because they failed to submit action plans detailing projects to be executed.
Such inconsistencies indicate a fretting compromise by states to slow down development at the basic education subsector despite a surging school population. It is instructive to note that if an average of N1.5 billion is deployed to each state of the federation per annum, enough classroom facilities would be built to accommodate all pupils enrolled in basic schools.