State Governments in Nigeria have been urged to, as a matter of urgency access the over N41 billion made available to them by the Nigerian Government through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Education, Professor Anthony Gozie Anwukah said that accessing the funds would improve on education infrastructure at the basic level.
In a statement issued in Abuja after a consultative meeting with 21 Chief Executives of Agencies under the Federal Ministry of Education, the Minister said that the refusal and inability of States to access their share of the UBEC fund was strangulating the development of basic education nationwide.
“The absolute necessity for States to access this fund cannot be over emphasized. Doing otherwise is not only depriving the country’s children, the conducive learning environment they desire, but also depriving Nigerians of thousands of employment opportunities that could be generated if N41 billion is injected into the economy through such productive activities,” Professor Anwukah explained.
He noted that it was economically wasteful to allow such quantum of money to lay dormant, especially at a time the country was in dire need of improving its gross domestic product (GDP) and strengthening its currency.
While acknowledging that only Borno State is up to date in accessing its share of UBEC funds-out of the 36 State of the Federation, the Minister revealed that Abia State was leading the pack of defaulting States with its share lying dormant for the past four years.
“Some of the reasons for the current rate of default by States are; the inability of beneficiary states to account for previous allocations, inability to pay 50% of their counterpart funding and in some cases, outright lack of commitment to the course of basic education,” the Minister stated.
Ruling out the possibility of altering the ratio of contribution between the Federal and State Governments (50:50), the Minister said he would continue to exert the necessary pressure on States to access their fund as at when due in the interest of the Nigerian child.
He called on State Governors to make Universal Basic Education a top priority of their agenda.