The Federal Government Wednesday said it was working on a decision that would allow states that have not been able to access the N64.8 Universal Basic Education funds for the development of basic education in the country have access to do so.
Only nine out of the 36 states and FCT were able to access the funds in 2015. 28 states could not because they failed to provide the matching grants or afford to pay counterpart funds required to access the funds.
Some of the states include: Oyo, Ekiti, Kwara, Bayelsa, Zamfara, Enugu, Plateau, Rivers, Nasarawa, Abia, Niger amongst others.
Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, had said the ministry was working to reduce or do away with the requirements for matching grants by states for them to have access to the funds.
“Meanwhile we at the ministry we are doing our best to reduce or do away with the requirements for matching grants so that states can just apply to UBEC and get what is their share,” he had said.
Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Dr Hameed Bobboyi, told journalists during a meeting with state chairmen of State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), in Abuja on Wednesday that for states to be able to access the funds without meeting the requirements, the UBE Act 2004 has to be amended.
Bobboyi stated that ministry of education has presented the challenge faced by states before the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for consideration.
He said: “The Federal Ministry of education and the relevant agencies has been doing quite a lot to ensure that the funds that are un-accessed are accessed by the states. This case is before ministry of education which is taking up the issue with the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and I think when the FEC makes its decision these things will be available for each and everywhere person to know just where we stand on this issue.
“There are two parties involved here and I think we should understand the major reason of instituting the matching grant of the UBE Act is to ensure that you build sufficient resources for the basic education sector where whatever the federal government brings the state governments will also match those funds and that is how the funding formula was developed.
“The idea is for us to push and ensure that people understand the initial impact of having the matching grants but subsequently also to see what could be done to see policy changes which could come from government because it involves change in UBEC Act that will facilitate or institute a lower percentage of matching grants to enable a large number of states which may be in some difficulties to access the funds.”
He blamed some states for failing to take basic education seriously even before the present economic challenges affecting the country.
According to him, the government is worried about the numbers of out-of-school children in the country and the poor quality of teachers in the basic education sector.
He added that teacher development was crucial to sustaining the quality of basic education in Nigeria.
“But unfortunately because of certain factors, even before the economic crisis that people are talking about, there are some states, perhaps who have not taken basic education very seriously. UBE has a road map for the development of basic education in this country. Any Executive secretary who comes will look at this and see what the priorities of government at any moment are.
“This government from the discussions and mandate that was given to us when we were inaugurated is to look at such key areas and ensure those concerned areas are addressed.
“The worrying areas of out of school children, issues of teachers’ development are crucial to sustaining the quality of basic education in Nigeria because if we don’t develop the teacher it becomes very difficult for us to realize the quality we are looking for.
“You know the key area that concerns this government is that area of accountability and transparency in the use of funds. And I think UBEC is going to improve its monitoring processes to ensure that whatever funds that come from UBEC are utilized in a transparent and accountable manner so that we can realize the core mandate of the organization that has been put in charge.
The Executive Chairman/Dean of SUBEBs, Prince Stephen Alao, confirmed that some states have been able to access 78 per cent of the funds.
He said: “Most states as I speak today have been able to access 78% of the fund for major infrastructural development across the nation and it is a continuous process.
“Most of the governors take basic education as a priority and the money that they have to pay for them to access is quite a lot of money and I am very happy, for example we have been able to access and we are working.
“There are some states that have not access for quite some time. I will mention like Ebonyi state. I want to commend their governor. Today they have accessed almost all their funds in UBEC and a lot of work is going on there.
“Our job is to talk with our various chairmen to dialogue with their governors. Of course most governors know that basic education is a priority in this country. You and I know if that if you miss basic education there is no nation. So I think all of us are on the same page in this matter.”

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