24 of Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) failed to access the remaining Twenty-Nine Billion, Five Hundred and Eighty-Five Million, Eight Hundred and Ninety-Three Thousand, Two Hundred and Twenty-One Naira, Sixty-Five Kobo (N29,585,893,221.65) of the counterpart funding for basic education in 2017.
This is based on a document obtained by EduCeleb.com from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) documenting how much each state government in Nigeria had taken advantage of such funds accessible through the agency. The funds, which are domiciled in the Central Bank may no longer be accessible to the states with the close of the 2017 fiscal year.
Popularly called Matching Grants
Such funds, which are popularly called “matching grants” constitute 50 percent of the gross revenue realised by UBEC in a preceding year. A 50% balance of that is disbursed to states in accordance with a sharing formula approved by the Federal Executive Council.
States are expected to provide an equal amount of the money as counterpart funds to be able to access the funds. Upon confirmation of the availability of the funds, UBEC would thereafter disburse the money into the account of the qualified state.
EduCeleb.com reports that basic education falls under the control of both states and local governments as stated in Nigerian laws.
UBEC, as the federal agency intervening in the provision of free and quality basic education in Nigeria, gets funding through about 2% of Consolidated Revenue Fund of the FG, other distributions from the FG as well as support from both local and international donors.
The Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act 2004, which established it, places a condition on states’ ability to access grants for a new year. The Act states that UBEC “shall not disburse such grant until it is satisfied that the earlier disbursements have been applied” based on the law provisions.
Recall that in 2014, some state governments attempted to call for the amendment of the part of the Act that mandates them to provide 50% counterpart funding but this was resisted by the then president, Goodluck Jonathan. His successor, Muhammadu Buhari had also been pressurised to help remove the clause through the parliament but that was also not accepted.
Beyond the UBEC precondition of fund performance before states could access new funds in a new fiscal year, it is widely believed that such funds go unclaimed each year due to corruption and the poor prioritisation of education by such states.
A recent report by EduCeleb.com quoted civic organisation, BudgIT stating that 12 states were owing teachers salaries despite access to N1.8 trillion bailouts from the FG just as there are other reports on poor learning conditions in schools due to dilapidated infrastructure in some states.
Earlier in the week, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) called on governments in the country to increase their budgetary allocations to educaation and ensure the release and utilisation of such funds.
A UNICEF education specialist, Asuka Menkiti at a forum in Kano noted that supply and demand create a mix of barriers to education that create the gap for access. She linked supply of funds to education quality saying “when supplies are not there, they will be dealing with issues of quality.”
The 2017 UBEC grant
EduCeleb.com recalls that UBEC started the disbursement of 2017 matching grants as part of the counterpart funds to the 36 states of the federation and the FCT in April 2018.
With 1,286,343,183.55 each accessible to states in the year, this newspaper found that only 13 states including the FCT have so far accessed the funds. The states are Borno, Cross River, Delta, Gombe, Kebbi, Kogi and Jigawa states. Others are Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba and the FCT.
But the document shows that as at the middle of September 2018, Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue and Ebonyi states have failed to provide matching grants. Other states in that category are Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Plateau, Yobe and Zamfara states.
Had all states accessed their respective funds, 47,594,697,791.35 more would have been pumped into the basic education sub-sector in Nigeria within the the 2017 fiscal year.
Nigeria has an estimated 13.2 million out-of-school children, according to the World Bank estimates. About 75% of them come from the states yet to access the funds.
Worse performers in accessing UBEC matching grants
Since the current administration started in 2015, certain states have consistently refused to access part or all of the UBEC matching grants.
From the records, EduCeleb.com gathered that they are Abia, Adamawa, Bayelsa, Benue, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Kwara, Ogun, and Plateau states. Each of them failed to access over 1 billion naira funds between 2015 and 2016 excluding the funds of 2017.
Abia, Bayelsa, Enugu, Kwara, Ogun and Plateau all take equal lead role in failing to access 1,918,783,783.78 each in 2015 and 2016, statutorily available for them for the two years.
They are followed by Ekiti and Ebonyi, which failed to access 1,102,670,626.38 and 1,061,976,679.06 respectively.
Next are Adamawa, Benue, and Imo, which each failed to access 1,042,027,027.02 within the same period.
Other states that have unaccessed funds albeit below 500 million naira between 2015 and 2016 are Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo, Nasarawa, and Yobe.
2018 UBEC grant yet to be accessed
Meanwhile, no state has so far accessed UBEC matching grants for 2018. According to UBEC, each of the states and the FCT is to be given access to 982,555,230.13 in 2018 on the condition that they could provide matching grants of an equal sum.
As it stands, disbursement of the 2018 funds is yet to commence despite the passage of the 2018 appropriation bill by the National Assembly since June.