25 states may forfeit N38.2b UBE cash; Questions for your governor

The report that 25 States in Nigeria may lose to the Federal Government over N38.2billion Universal Basic Education Scheme fund which they have left idle for months is depressing news considering the fact that a lot of children cannot go to school due to their parents’ inability to pay their school fees. If you are not from Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Ondo, Oyo, Yobe and the FCT, ask your governor why his administration have not accessed this fund!

The Minister of Education Dr. Sam Egwu who ordered the recall of the money also ordered the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) to assess the performance of 11 states and the FCT which took their funds.

The Universal Basic Education programme initiated by the administration of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo seeks to provide free education for children between the ages of seven and 17 from primary school to Junior Secondary School (JSS 3). About two per cent (2%) from the nation’s Consolidated Revenue Fund is set aside for the funding of the UBE.

Based on this report and given the financial challenges facing parents in the States, 25 states found it necessary not to apply for the grant for reasons best know to them. We are talking about more than (One Billion Naira -N1, 093,283, 785.21) for each state.

It was reported that the grant has guidelines set by the enabling Act and states that the distribution formula shall be decided by the Federal Executive Council (FEC). The guidelines require a measure of accountability and transparency as follows: About 50% of the funds go to states as conditional grant; 14% non-conditional; 10% for professional development; and 15% for instructional materials, among others. But there has been apathy from states in taking the UBE funds, probably because of the accountability and transparency criteria put in place by the Federal Government.

On August 31, 2009, the Nation reported that the Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr. Ahmed Modibbo confirmed that about 25 states have not accessed more than N38.2billion and said the 12 states that had accessed their funds would undergo performance assessment. “Only these 12 states, have accessed their 2008 funds and they are the only ones that are qualified for assessment. And only these 12 states could only participate in Good Performance Award, which fetches grants too” he said.

Only 11 states and the FCT have accessed the accumulated funds, of the 37 beneficiaries.
Those that have accessed their funds are: Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Ondo, Oyo, Yobe and the FCT.

Dr Modibbo said the 24 states could not access the over NN38.2billion, because they have not complied with the guidelines, including refusal to pay their counterpart funding for the scheme; non-accountability of the funds earlier disbursed to them in 2005, 2006 and 2007; and lack of establishment of State Universal Basic Education Boards.

President Umaru Yar’Adua has a policy on the mopping up of unspent funds in any fiscal year. These un-accessed funds will not be exempted from this policy. “Although there is pressure on the President by governors for a waiver of the enabling guidelines on UBE funds, the government is not disposed to that.

“The governors want the money without paying counterpart funds; without accountability; and without performance assessment on how they spend UBE funds. Yar’Adua would have none of that.”

“These guidelines are compulsory; we cannot waive them. They are easy to comply with but some states are not really too keen in meeting the criteria. In any case, their money is still in CBN; nobody has touched it.”

I believe, and you will agree, that the 25 States school system is beset with the following needs and problems and could use the funds: poor instructions, environment not conducive to learning, dearth of instruction materials, poorly equipped laboratories and libraries, teachers and school administrators that have endless needs for professional development. In those states, kids are studying without text books.

I know that grant writing requires specialized skill sets and huge amount of work – project planning, needs assessment, development of strategic plan/programs and implementation framework, including performance measurement, monitoring system and structured reporting.

If the Governors and their Commissioners for Education couldn’t find the expertise in-house to prepare the grant application designed to help the (KIDS), our future, they should have hired a trained grant writer to facilitate the development of the grant application.

Must these Governors always pride themselves on what they did with unaccountable funds? It is my own opinion that prudent management of a program requiring accountability and performance- based outcomes is a true measurement for a good public custodian.

You know, when there is money without accountability, everyone is a good manager. The governors obviously want the money without paying counterpart funds; without accountability; and without performance assessment on how he spends UBE funds. This is a shame!


My QUESTION is, with these needs, why would the governors reject N1.093 Billion in federal educational funds. I am sure there is a better explanation from the Governors but their people are owed some explanation here.

If indeed this news is true, I recommend that the State Commissioners for Education should resign immediately.

By way of action, you should demand some explanation from your governors about what happened. The public has the right to know what the deal is.

Copyright 2009