States’ inability to access N68bn UBEC fund is criminal – NAPTAN, NANS

The failure of certain state governments to access a grant of approximately N68 billion from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) has been characterised by certain critical stakeholders in the education system as criminal. They claim that the basic education sector faces numerous challenges, some of which such an amount can help to partially address.

As of December 11, 2023, the total amount yet to be accessed by 11 state governments was N68. 7 billion.This is happening against the backdrop of approximately 20.2 million out-of-school children in the country.

The stakeholders include parents under the auspices of the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN, and the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS.

Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, the National President of NAPTAN, spoke on behalf of parents, stating that this kind of situation demonstrates how lightly our leaders handle important matters.

“It is criminal for state governments to just let such huge sum of money lie fallow when we know the difficulties our basic education sector is facing. If it was possible, I would have suggested that UBEC should just use such funds to execute projects on behalf of the affected states. However, the law does not allow that.

“It is the state government, through the State Universal Basic Education Board that will decide which project to execute and they will initiate a plan of action and send such to UBEC. After the project has been approved, the state will provide half of the cost of the project and UBEC will provide the remainder. So, UBEC cannot decide for the states which projects to execute, ” he explained.

According to Danjuma, President Bola Tinubu should convene a conference with the state governors and emphasise to them the importance of providing the corresponding finance for the projects.

Comrade Alao John, the NANS Southwest Coordinator, stated that it is wrong to deny access to money due to the horrible condition of public schools.

“The main issue here is about accountability. Some states have been suspended from the fund because of the misuse of previous grants. There must be the assurance that funds meant for the purpose of renovating or building structures in the schools are judiciously used. That is why we are advocating that students should be part of decision making process,” he said.

Recall that a group, the Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, ASCAB, led by Mr Femi Falana, SAN, recently called for the enforcement of Section 3 of the Education Reforms Act which mandates state governments to contribute 50 percent of the costs of projects to be executed in their states by UBEC.