By Kuni Tyessi
The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) has said that N41.06 billion matching grant in its coffers has not been accessed by the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as at March 8, 2021.
The Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr Hamid Bobboyi, made this known during an oversight visit to the commission by the Senate Committee on Basic and Secondary Education on Thursday in Abuja.
He said about N143 billion matching grant was accessed by states and FCT from 2017 to 2020, out of the N184.8 billion that was made available by the commission.
While saying that no state has accessed the 2020 matching grant, Bobboyi said only Ogun State was yet to access its 2018 allocations, while 10 states have not also taken delivery of their 2019 grants as of March 8, 2020.
He listed the states to include Kebbi, Niger, Ogun, Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi, Imo, Edo, Abia and Lagos, but added that Abia, Lagos and Kebbi had in a few days lodged their payments.
Bobboyi, who lamented the several challenges bedevilling the basic education sector, said UBEC was appropriated N29.7 billion in the 2020 budget for capital projects with N1.3 billion for Federal Teacher Scheme; Constituency Zonal Intervention Projects (ZIP) – N2.8 billion and Constituency projects (Capital) – N25.6 billion.
He, however, said that only N29.75 billion (99.2 per cent) was released to the commission as at December 2020.
Bobboyi said with the capital releases, the commission awarded contracts to the tune of N27.5 billion for 2,895 constituency projects across the country, adding that 939 of such projects have been completed, while 1,956 are ongoing.
He said the projects cut across classroom construction, renovation and supplies of education items.
The UBEC boss said: “Thirty states and FCT have implemented 2018 (matching grant projects), six states namely; Anambra, Imo, Kaduna, Kwara, Ogun and Plateau are yet to implement. Eight states have implemented 2019 matching grants projects, 28 states and FCT are yet to implement. In 2020, no state implemented the matching grants projects.”
Earlier, the acting Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic and Secondary Education, Senator Akon Eyakenyi, said the team was at UBEC to assess its activities in line with the mandate of the Senate.
“UBEC is a major agency under this committee because the foundation of education begins with UBEC. If we miss it at that level, it will be difficult to get it right,” the Akwa-Ibom’s born senator said.
On his part, a member of the committee and former Governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha, described as an embarrassment the 13.4 million out-of-school children in the country.
He called for the establishment of emergency schools in the northern parts of the country to tackle the problem.
Also speaking, a former Governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Umaru Al-makura, called on UBEC to establish special schools in all the states of the country.