A recent revelation has brought to light that twenty-seven states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have failed to access the N36.1 billion education fund provided by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) in 2023. This figure, obtained from a document prepared by UBEC in March 2024, highlights the concerning issue of unaccessed matching grants by several states, which has significant implications for the education sector in Nigeria.

27 States, FCT Miss Opportunity, Raising Questions on Education Funding

The data revealed that several states, including Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe, Benue, Kwara, Niger, Kogi, Plateau, Ekiti, Lagos, and Ogun, have not accessed the allocated funds. This failure to access the funds is attributed to the states’ inability to provide the required counterpart funding, which is essential for accessing the UBEC funds to provide free basic education for citizens.

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The implications of this failure are far-reaching, as it directly impacts the development and improvement of the education sector in these states. The unaccessed funds could have been utilized for building and renovating schools, training teachers, and providing essential educational resources. The inability to access these funds hampers efforts to reduce the number of out-of-school children, improve the quality of education, and enhance the overall educational infrastructure in the affected states.

In response to this concerning situation, various stakeholders have voiced their concerns and proposed solutions. The Nigeria Governors Forum’s Education Advisor, Dr. Ebenezer Leo The Great, highlighted the challenges faced by states in accessing the UBEC funds and called for a review of the UBEC Act to reduce the matching grant or counterpart fund required from the states. This proposed amendment aims to facilitate easier access to the funds and address the current difficulties faced by state governments.

Additionally, the Alliance on Surviving Covid-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), led by human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has issued a deadline for the states to access the over N68 billion matching grants from UBEC or face legal action. This proactive stance underscores the urgency of addressing the issue and emphasizes the importance of utilizing the allocated funds for the benefit of the education sector and the millions of school children in need.

The National President of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Comrade Audu Titus Amba, expressed deep concern over the failure of states to access the UBEC funds, emphasizing the critical role of the funds in addressing the challenges faced by the education sector. He highlighted the need for state governments to fulfill their obligations by paying their counterpart funding, which is essential for accessing the UBEC funds and improving the educational landscape in their respective states.

As the education sector grapples with the impact of unaccessed UBEC funds, it is imperative for state governments to prioritize and expedite the process of accessing these funds. The utilization of these funds is crucial for addressing the pressing issues of out-of-school children, improving educational infrastructure, and enhancing the overall quality of education in the affected states.

The revelation of unaccessed UBEC funds underscores the urgent need for concerted efforts and decisive actions to ensure that these funds are effectively utilized for the betterment of the education sector. It is essential for state governments to fulfill their obligations, access the allocated funds, and channel them towards initiatives that will significantly impact the educational well-being of the nation’s children.

The failure to access the N36.1 billion UBEC grant by twenty-seven states and the FCT raises serious concerns about the state of education in Nigeria. The need for prompt action, collaboration between stakeholders, and a review of existing policies is crucial to address this issue and ensure that the allocated funds are utilized to advance the education sector and provide a brighter future for the nation’s children.