…Withholds N20.2 bn from Nasarawa, Plateau, Benue
By Joseph Erunke – Abuja
Between 2015 and 2018, the federal government disbursed the sum of N142.6 billion to states governments and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, for successful implementation of the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC.
The money was the UBE matching grant to states as well as the deduction from the Paris Club refund to states for onward provision of needed facilities in public primary and junior secondary schools in the states of the country.
The sum of N71.3bn was deducted by the federal government from the Paris Club Refund accruing to the states. The other N71.3bn came from the marching grants from UBEC.
But the three states of Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau, according to the document on the status of matching grants to states, obtained by Vanguard in Abuja, were yet complete their counterpart funds, a development that led the government to withhold over N20.3 billion due for them.
The amount released to states and the FCT, was part of over N173 billion released to UBEC so far by the current government as matching grant since its inception in 2015.
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The money is beside the sum of N34 billion released to states for Teacher Professional Development programme just like N8 billion released for the education of children with special needs.
Details in the UBEC matching grant disbursement schedule showed that government disbursed the sum of N71,292,316,087.88 from Paris Club and N78,580,464,246.74 from UBE matching grant bringing the total disbursement in the year under review to N142,878,595,426.86 leaving it with the balance of N6,994,184,907.76.
Of all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT Abuja,Benue State,according to the document,was withheld the sum of N118,091,358.84 while Plateau State too,had its N1,185,503,278.98/withheld for their inabilities to pay their counterpart funds.
In similar manner,the sum of N699,272,152.29 belonging to Nasarawa State was withheld by the government following its inability to fulfill it obligation in the payment of counterpart funds.
The unwillingness by states to pay their counterpart funds in order to access the matching grant from UBEC, had led government to the deduction of N71 billion from source from the share of states of Paris Club refund.
The document showed that in June 2019, UBEC fulfilled its own matching grant obligation by releasing the sum of N142 billion to states for the implementation of basic education.
This was after the government released the sum of N71.3bn from the Paris Club refund to the Universal Basic Education Commission for the provision of much-needed infrastructure in public primary and secondary schools across the country.
Details of the matching grant disbursement schedule to states as seen in the document showed that while the government had disbursed the total of N142,878,595,426.86 to states during the years under review, the sum of N6,994,184,907 had remained as a balance to be paid.
The Executive Secretary of Universal Basic Education Commission, Dr Hamid Bobboyi,had explained that the federal government would provide just the matching grants, while the state governments would provide the counterpart fund to be able to access the funds provided by the government.
Regretting that initially, states were not coming forward to access their matching grants, said: “There is a new development and the federal government has given us a schedule of these states.”
“The total amount the Federal Government is going to pay and remit directly to the commission is N71, 292, 316, 087.84.
“So, UBEC in disbursing the funds will put the counterpart funds along with the matching grants and disburse to states if they meet the conditions.
“So, the issue of funds not accessed in UBEC will soon come to an end at least for 2018, which is a good thing”,he had said.
Bobboyi, however, said a lot of progress had been made by states in accessing their matching grants from UBEC, adding that “previously there would be stacks of money in the commission waiting to be accessed.”
According to him, in the last few years, states had made a lot of efforts to ensure they paid their counterpart funding in order to access the matching grants provided by the federal government.