Senator Uche Chukwumerije
By Dele Ogbodo
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Education, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, Monday deplored the allocation of N427.5 billion to the education sector in the 2013 budget proposal as a far cry and grossly inadequate from what the Ministry needs to implement its programmes.
He added that the entire budgetary allocation represents less than 10 per cent of the N4.92 trillion 2013 budget.
Chukwumerije, who made the disclosure at the 2013 budget defence, by the Minister of Education, Prof. Ruquayyatu Rufa’i, stated that the entire allocation does not measure up to 26 per cent United Nation Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) approved amount for education.
He said: “The sector should be given serious improved funding which the Committee hopes to address in conjunction with the Appropriation Committees of the National Assembly (NASS).”
According to him, there exists a lot of scope for collaborative efforts and sharing of resources among institutions especially in the area of basic research.
Chukwumerije said it was regrettable that the level of the ministry’s budget implementation for 2012 has remained below 50 per cent.
While this holds true for all sectors, he added that bits impact on the educational sector is most severe.
After the committee’s oversight visits to a number of institutions, he said the committee found out that the educational sector was faced with three deficiencies of infrastructural, faculty and contents which was also confirmed by the need assessment study undertaken by the Tertiary Trust Fund.
Chukwumerije stressed that while funding may not be adequate to deal with the three deficiencies, he said it is the intention of the committee to evolve and find a lasting solution to the contents and access to contents problem, adding that the ultimate goal of an academic institution is to deliver effective content.
According to him, the sharp decrease is not healthy for the education sector that needs improved funding to address decayed infrastructural facilities, renovation of dilapidated hostels, classrooms and laboratories across the country’s institutions.
“Although TETF is assisting in intervening in the funding of special projects in the tertiary institutions and UBEC in the basic and secondary institutions, the need the capital cost of the institutions cannot be overemphasized.
“The Committee he said will explore ways of increasing the shortfall in capital cost in order to reposition for capital projects n for enviable learning environment.”
Also in a similar vein, the Chairman Senate Committee on Lands Housing and Urban Development, Senator Bukar Ibrahim, while receiving the Minister, Ms. Amal Pepple who appeared before the committee to defend the ministry’s 2013 budget, stated that the 48 per cent performance of the ministry was far below expectation.
Ibrahim was however worried that out of the total sum of N41. 9billion budgeted in the 2012 for capital projects, only N18.3 billion had been released and cash backed.
This, according to him, represents 43.75 per cent of the total appropriation which leaves a balance of N23.5 billion, which is the equivalent of 56.25 per cent.
Ibrahim also frowned at the uneven distribution of the ministry’s projects across the country.
He said: “In the distribution of some of your projects across the country, I can observe that the six Northern states are marginalised in terms of distribution of your projects, we are totally neglected and abandoned. This is not fair.”
The committee members were however not happy with the minister when Senator Kabiru Gaya, representing Kano South senatorial district pointed out that expending N85 million as travelling and hotel accommodation allowances to monitor the ministry ongoing capital projects across the country was a big waste.
In her remark, Pepple said the ministry is still carrying a debt of N15.5 billion from 2010 budget in respect of Millennium Development Projects (MDGs) executed across the country.
She said: “My Ministry is undated on daily basis by the contractors affected. “This prompted me to make a case to the Federal Ministry of Finance for a special release to enable us pay the contractors.” The Ministry according to her has proposed a total budget of N24.8 billion for the 2013 Fiscal year, adding that from amount the sum of N5. 6 billion is earmarked as recurrent while N19.1 billion is for capital projects.