All the six states in the Southwest failed to provide the matching grant to access about N9 billion intervention funds released in 2015/2016 by the Federal Government for the development of basic education in their states, Executive Secretary of Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Dr. Hamid Bobboyi, has said.
Dr. Bobboyi addressed reporters yesterday in Abuja on the development.
He said only two states – Imo and Anambra – accessed the grant in the same year, while about N7.8 billion is lying idle at the commission.
A breakdown showed that Lagos had N1,042,027,027.02; Ekiti N1,102,670,626.38; Ogun N1,918,783,783.78; Osun N1,042,027,027.02; Oyo N1,918,783,783.78 and Ondo N1,918,783,783.78 unaccessed funds in 2015/2017 alone.
Of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), only seven states fully accessed their funds by matching the counterpart funding in 2015/2016.
The states are: Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Rivers and Sokoto.
About N36 billion still lies idle with the commission, he said.
A breakdown showed that Southwest had N8,943,076,031.76; Southeast, N7,840,405,405.02; Southsouth, N5,316,279,7583.34.
Others are: Northcentral, N8,274,583,332.18; Northwest, N2,161,399,927.75 and Northeast N3,473,453,423.13.
Dr. Bobboyi said: “The Southwest, again, is a bit of a problem. It is a bit of a problem that needs to be addressed. The Southwest is the leader (of unaccessed funds) in this area.
“In 2016, no single Southwest state accessed any funds; the region has a lot of unaccessed funds. It is something that worries one. It is something we need to work on. We have been trying to convince them of the need to access these funds.
“We have been planning various advocacy visits to all the states on State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB). We need to find out why. We need to discuss with all the executive governors to be more proactive in this particular area, especially by putting it as part of their budgets, to make sure they access these funds in the future without problems.
“There were efforts here and there to see how to reduce the counterpart funding from states. A lot of governors have been pushing for that because of the hardship.
“If the counterpart funding is reduced below a certain percentage, it is the states that are going to suffer because, usually, the counterpart funding may be the only funding that is available to the basic education sector in the state. So, reducing it will likely provide more difficulties in this regard.”
Dr. Bobboyi said no states had accessed this year’s intervention because they believed the funds would not be made available till the first quarter of 2018.
He said: “Very few states will want to access their 2017. Why? It’s because the disbursements are on a monthly basis. Therefore, they will want to wait until December 31(2017) before they start accessing this fund by the first quarter of 2018. That is why you hardly find anybody making effort to access 2017 funds in 2017. Even if you pay your counterpart fund, you still have to wait till the end of the year as 2017 is still accumulating.”
The UBEC chief said plans were in the pipeline to launch a national basic education sector plan by the end of next month.
Dr. Bobboyi said: “By the end of September, we are going to have a National Basic Education Sector Plan that can move the basic education sector forward. I think this is very important for us as a nation to be able to put in all those key elements that we need to succeed within the basic education sector.
“In the last five years, UBEC has been trying to do the national personnel audit that will look at the entire sector. But unfortunately, it is a process we started this year to ensure that by the end, we will know the number of teachers we have and the level of their qualifications within the system.”