By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—THE House of Representatives yesterday lamented that despite the poor funding of the education sector, about 10 states had been unable to access the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, intervention fund of N3 billion each was entitled since 2011.
The House also decried non-compliance in payment of counterpart funding to access the grant by 27 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.
Consequently, the House in its resolution yesterday, called on the Federal Government to remit the statutory allocations for the months of January to April, 2015 to UBEC fund without delay.
It also urged the defaulting state governments and the FCT to, in the national interest, contribute their counterpart funds to enable them access the UBEC fund to bring education in the states to the reach of every child.
It was also said that about N58 billion of the UBEC fund, which was meant for the provision of infrastructure for primary and secondary education, was lying moribund in the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, because the defaulting states had failed to pay up their counterpart funding.
The resolution was a result of a motion sponsored by Rep Aishatu Jibril Dukku which was titled, “Need to Urge States Defaulting on Universal Basic Education Funds to Pay Up.”
Leading the debate on the motion, Dukku, a former Minister of State for Education, noted that primary and secondary education were facing myriads of problems, including dilapidated and sometimes, non-existent infrastructure, lack of qualified manpower and outdated teaching aids, especially at the local government level, to the fact that many states have failed to provide their counterpart funding.
She decried the lukewarm attitude exhibited by state governments in accessing UBEC’s conditional and non-conditional funds, adding that a lot could be achieved with states paying the stipulated fifty percent counterpart funding to the commission, which in turn provides an additional fifty percent to the money presented by the states.
The lawmaker said: “The idea of UBEC has been hailed as one of the best policies to have been introduced in the education sector as it helps to provide free and universal basic education for every Nigerian child of school-going age, thereby laying a solid foundation for life-long learning.
“But it is worrisome that some states have failed to claim their grants since 2005, while over N58 billion of the commission’s fund is idling away in the Central Bank of Nigeria unclaimed, yet states moan that they do not have money to develop the education sector.”
She listed states lsuch as Abia, Benue, Cross River, Ekiti, Enugu, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Osun and Oyo, as having an average of over N3 billion each idling away in the CBN, having failed to access their allocations since 2011, despite what she described as the dilapidated state of infrastructure in primary and secondary schools in those states.
The House at yesterday’s plenary, presided over by the speaker, Yakubu Dogara, directed its Committee on Tertiary Education and Services and Banking and Currency to investigate the current status of the Nigerian Education Bank, with a view to bringing about its revival.
This followed the adoption of a motion, entitled: “Urgent Need to Investigate the Status of the Nigerian Education Bank”, sponsored by Ahmed Yerima.
Yerima in the motion, told the House that the idea for the Nigerian Education Bank was mooted in 1993 as replacement for the Nigerian Students Loans Board.
He said the Board, established in 1972, had by 1991 provided loans totaling N46 million (US$ 3.8 million) to enable students finance undergraduate or graduate studies within Nigeria and abroad, but by 1992, the Board was faced with the problem of recovering outstanding loans of over N40 million (US$ 3.34 million), thus leading to its suspension and the establishment of an educational bank
However, the lawmaker said the bank, which other functions included provision of advisory services and undertaking scientific research on the economics and financing of education, never really took off.