BY HENRY UMORU
ABUJA- THE Federal Government has urged governors of the 36 states to save the education sector from collapse by accessing funds meant for the growth of the sector.
Answering questions from newsmen, yesterday, after making a presentation to the governors, under the aegis of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, at Rivers State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufai, warned that if the governors did not urgently find ways of getting the funds to cater for the sector, the future of the nation’s education sector might be bleak, just as she stressed that most of the governors had not taken advantage of the availability of funds.
She pointed out that state governments currently have the opportunity to access Tertiary Education Trust Fund which does not require counterpart funding.
The Minister said; ‘’Our meeting was basically on UBEC. We realise that there may have been a gap between Tertiary Education Trust Fund, the Federal Ministry of Education and all state governments because if we have problem accessing funds for UBEC, it withholds some kinds of counterpart funding from the state.
‘’But for Tertiary Education Trust Fund, we do not require any counterpart funding. Since we have a lot of money lying there for the state, that is why we made a presentation and the Executive Secretary was also here trying to guide state governments on the way forward.
“Actually, we had a presentation with them earlier on at the NEC meeting and the Vice President also had a committee that is working on ETF and UBEC in terms of how the states can be able to access their funds.
‘’But today, we also found a conducive environment as a presentation was made to the state governors guiding them on their role on how to access the funds. And actually, the meeting was very fruitful because most of the governors appeared to even be blank on the process of accessing state funds.
‘’So I felt that from now, we can a very good way forward in accessing the funds. But moreover, at the Federal Ministry of Education, we solicited for their continued support because there is little that the Federal Ministry of Education can do if it doesn’t have the approval or the cooperation of the state governors.
‘’So what we did is to actually solicit for their support as we still want to start our state census and that state census requires each governor to give support to its Ministry of Education to conduct state census for us so that every year we can have a public statistics for the whole country.”