UBEC: FG withholds states’ allocation for failure to pay counterpart funds

7
UBEC: FG withholds states’ allocation for failure to pay counterpart funds
Between 2015 and 2018, the Federal Government disbursed N142.6 billion to state governments and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, for implementation of the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC.
The money was the UBE matching grant to states as well as the deduction from the Paris Club refund to states for onward provision of needed facilities in public primary and junior secondary schools in the states of the federation.
The sum of N71.3bn was deducted by the Federal Government from the Paris Club Refund accruing to the states.
The other N71.3bn came from the marching grants from UBEC. But the three states of Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau, according to the document on the status of matching grants to states, obtained by Vanguard in Abuja, are yet to complete their counterpart funds, a development that led the government to withhold over N20.3 billion due to them.
The amount released to states was part of over N173 billion released to UBEC so far by the current government as matching grant since its inception in 2015.
The money is besides the N34 billion released to states for Teachers Professional Development programme and N8 billion released for the education of children with special needs.
Details in the UBEC matching grant disbursement schedule showed that government disbursed the sum of N71,292,316,087.88 from Paris Club and N78,580,464,246.74 from UBE matching grant, bringing the total disbursement in the year under review to N142,878,595,426.86.
This leaves a balance of N6,994,184,907.76. Of all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT Abuja, Benue State, according to the document, had N118,091,358.84 withheld, while Plateau State, had its N1,185,503,278.98 withheld folowing their inability to pay counterpart funds.
In a similar manner, N699,272,152.29 belonging to Nasarawa State was withheld by the government, following its inability to fulfill it obligation in the payment of counterpart funds.
The unwillingness by states to pay their counterpart funds to access the matching grant from UBEC, had led government to the deduction of N71 billion at source from the share of states of Paris Club refund.
The document showed that in June 2019, UBEC fulfilled its own matching grant obligation by releasing the sum of N142 billion to states for the implementation of basic education.
This was after the government released N71.3bn from the Paris Club refund to the Universal Basic Education Commission for the provision of much-needed infrastructure in public primary and secondary schools across the country.
Details of the matching grant disbursement schedule to states as seen in the document, showed that while government had disbursed the total of N142,878,595,426.86 to states during the years under review, the sum of N6,994,184,907 had remained as balance to be paid.
Executive Secretary of Universal Basic Education Commission, Dr. Hamid Bobboyi, explained that the Federal Government would provide the matching grants, while the state governments would provide the counterpart fund to be able to access the funds provided by the government.
Regretting that states were initially not coming forward to access their matching grants, Bobboyi said:”There is a new development and the Federal Government has given us a schedule of these states.
The total amount the Federal Government is going to pay and remit directly to the commission is N71, 292, 316, 087.84. “So, UBEC in disbursing the funds will put the counterpart funds along with the matching grants and disburse to states if they meet the conditions.
So, the issue of funds not accessed in UBEC will soon come to an end, at least for 2018, which is a good thing.”
He, however, said a lot of progress had been made by states in accessing their matching grants from UBEC, adding that “previously there would be stacks of money in the commission waiting to be accessed.”
According to him, in the last few years, states have made a lot of efforts to ensure they paid their counterpart funding in order to access the matching grants provided by the federal government.
In his reaction to the supposed failure of Benue State government to pay its counterpart fund of N118million to the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, to access more funds, the Commissioner of Finance, Mr. David Olofu, said: “That cannot be true.
“The fact is that the money we are matching is more than the N118million and we have done the necessary processing to match it. “We were supposed to match some funds available at the federal level and the process has been completed with the matching. Moreover, the fund is far more that the N118million mentioned.’’
We’re only in arrears of last quarter of 2019 – Nasarawa SUBEB chairman Reacting, Nasarawa State Universal Basic Education Board, NSUBEB, said it was not in arrears of counterpart funding in the past three years.
Chairman of the board, Muhammed Azumi, said in Lafia that the state government had been assessing the UBEC funds, except for the last quota of 2019. According to him, the board in 2016, received a total budgetary allocation to the Nasarawa State Universal Basic Education Board of N978.5 million.
He said In 2017, N1.4 billion was allocated for UBEC, while N4.5 billion was allocated for the state’s Universal Basic Education Board. Azumi said combining UBEC’s matching grant with state’s budgetary allocation, over N18 billion, including the grant, was allocated for the education sector in Nasarawa State.
He said the Nasarawa State NSUBEB had spent N10bilion on various projects between 2015 and 2019 in the state, disclosing further that the commission last year received N5billion from Universal Basic Education Commission, Azumi explained that during the last administration in the state, the board received interventions from 2012 to the third quota of 2016, adding that the board had in 2011 expended over N10 billion on the construction and renovation of over 400 classrooms across the state.
“We have provided staff offices, toilets facilities, and boreholes, parameters fencing in so many schools to make the environments conducive for both teachers and students. ‘’The provision of these facilities and the policy of school feeding have significantly increased school enrollment in the state,” the SUBEB chairman said. He added that the board within the period, placed priority on the welfare of primary school teachers, maintaining that teachers from all the 13 local government area of the state had been trained in different techniques as part of efforts to improve their skills for better service delivery.
“The board had since last year, written a memo to the state government on the remittance of its counterpart contribution to enable it assess the last quota intervention to the state.” According to him, the state is ready with its last quota counterpart fund which would be released to UBEB in no distance time.
PLATEAU SUBEB MAKING EFFORT TO PAY UP UBEC COUNTERPART FUND Also reacting, Executive Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board, in Plateau State, SUBEB, Professor Matthew Sule, said the state was making efforts to be up to date with payment of its counterpart funding. He admitted there were backlog of counterpart funding to be cleared by the state government, stressing that the government was committed to meeting its obligations in terms of paying and accessing the funds.
“If you check the budget, under SUBEB fund, you will see the sum of N2bn there, which is going to cover the counterpart that is pending. That has been captured in the budget and I am sure it would be paid.
“It is true that we were owing from 2014, 2015, 206, 2017, 2018 and 2019 but we were able to liquidate for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, so what is left now is 2018 and probably part of 2019 which that N2bn will cover.’’