States Must Access UBEC Funds, Says Reps

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Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti

The House of Representatives has disclosed that all states of the federation are under obligation to access the Universal Basic Education Funds to provide basic education.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Basic Education, Prof Julius Ihonvbere said this yesterday at a session with the Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi in Ado Ekiti.

Ihonvbere alongside members of the committee was in the state to carry out oversight functions.
At the session with Fayemi, Ihonvbere said it was mandatory for states to access the Universal Basic Education Funds (UBEC) to provide education for Nigerians of school age in the country.

Ihonvbere said failure to access the fund is tantamount to disservice to the people, especially the little children who seek good education and prosperous futures.

He, thus, disclosed that the committee was in Ekiti as part of its oversight function to inspect basic schools and ensure that funds released by the federal government for execution of projects were judiciously utilized.
Ihonvbere said the committee was in the state as part of its constitutional responsibility to assess the extent to which states utilised the federal government grants provided to them through UBEC.

He commended the Fayemi administration for injecting passion and commitment to reposition and refocus basic education in the state.
He said, “Giving that we are very conversant with the distorted legacy inherited by the governor in the area of basic education, we are satisfied that there is passion, there is commitment.

“There is focus. There is a burning desire to protect our children and ensure they get the best in basic education.”
Also at the session, Fayemi urged UBEC and the Federal Ministry of Education to improve the mechanism for school monitoring and evaluation of projects in order to promote qualitative education in the country.

Fayemi also informed the committee on the need for the federal government to suspend counterpart funding as part of basic requirements for states to access UBEC funding.
Fayemi explained that the backlogs of funds domiciled in the UBEC account was a function of the inability of some states to raise counterpart funds to access it.

He added that the process if successful would enable states to take more accelerated actions that would substantially improve the condition of schools and quality of learning received by students.
Fayemi said: “It is necessary to step down counterpart funding in order for states to access the money that is just sitting there and the president has agreed with us.

“That would enable states to take more accelerated actions on schools but it will now be more of a programme for results arrangement rather than counterpart funding arrangement.
“I know how important this committee is, I want to plead with you to really continue to impress it on the Universal Basic Education Commission and the Federal Ministry of Education to pay more attention to the quality of education and to the monitoring and evaluation exercise.”

Stressing the need to get the school environment safe and secured, Fayemi noted that it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the security of schools goes beyond the traditional measure of installing perimeter fencing to adopting more effective measures that would guarantee safety of students particularly at a time the country is faced with security challenges.
The governor, as requested by the committee, promised to continue to lend national voice to campaigns against out of school children in the country.

He explained how his administration in two years had been able to improve students’ enrollment in both basic and secondary schools in the state through free and compulsory education and the enactment of the Child Right Act which prohibits school age children from walking on the streets during school hours without genuine reasons.

The Peoples Democratic Party in Ebonyi State, yesterday suffered a major setback as its embattled chairman, Onyekachi Nwebonyi formally defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Nwebonyi defected alongside all members of PDP State Executive Committee, all chairmen of 13 local government chapters and 171 ward chapters at Pa Ngele Oruta Township Stadium, Abakaliki.