Imo N7bn basic education funds not missing — UBEC

The Executive Secretary of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Dr Hamid Bobboyi, has clarified that the over N7 billion grant released to Imo State in the twilight of Governor Rochas Okorocha’s administration for the Universal Basic Education (UBE) implementation is intact with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He explained that the cash was returned to the CBN’s vault because of the controversies that trailed the procurement processes soon after Okorocha left office.

The UBEC boss gave this clarification during a visit by the senate committee on basic education last week. earlier reported that N41 billion of funds for basic education have not been accessed by the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory so far.

He gave the clarification to Okorocha in relation to these funds he secured their release shortly before he left office as the Governor of Imo State on completion of his two-term tenure.

The government of his successor, Emeka Ihedioha had discarded the procurement plan submitted to UBEC to secure the release of the funds after paying the requisite counterpart fund.

Ihedioha’s administration was, however, short-lived (2019-2020) as the Supreme Court upturned his election and gave it to the incumbent governor, Hope Uzodinma.

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Meanwhile, Hope Uzodinma’s administration had to approach UBEC with a fresh procurement plan.

This forced the management of UBEC to return the money to the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Okorocha was ostensibly apprehensive that the money must have developed “wings” since according to him, no new project was done in the state supposedly with the allocation since he left office.

Executive Secretary of UBEC allayed the fears of the Senator, saying the money was intact, adding that the commission was always very strict about procurement processes.

Bobboyi noted that a number of state governments have had their funds withheld for diversion of previous allocations to other projects outside the plan submitted to the commission before the money was released to them.

He further told the committee that Imo State is one of the four states yet to implement the 2017 matching grant projects the other three states being Anambra, Kaduna and Kwara.

He also informed the committee led by the Acting Chairman, Ekon Eyakenyi disclosed that over N143 billion grants have been accessed by the states and FCT from 2017 to 2020 out of the N184.8 billion that was made available by the commission.

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He explained that no state has accessed the 2020 matching grant because of the delay in the release of funds for capital projects occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic, saying originally the 2020 matching grant was only due for access by states in January 2021.

UBE Programme was launched by the Federal Government of Nigeria in September 1999 for the purpose of achieving free, compulsory and universal basic education, and as Nigeria’s response to the achievement of Education For All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

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