The attention of the Management Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) has been drawn to an Editorial by the Sun Newspaper of 20th June, 2023 to the effect that about N110 billion of the intervention funds accessed from UBEC were not utilised by states as of 2021 with the money left in the coffers of State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs).
This is not only a misrepresentation of comments made by the Executive Secretary of UBEC at a briefing to flag off the 2022 National Personnel Audit (NPA) but a mischievous of way of distorting facts to put the Commission in the bad light.
The authors also falsely alleged corruption at UBEC and calling for thorough investigation and the culprits brought to book by the government while also talking about undue politicisation of UBEC Funds.
These are false and baseless allegations that cannot be substantiated because the current management of UBEC and indeed the Executive Secretary has continued to run the affairs of the Commission in an open and transparent manner.
To set the records straight, there is no time the Executive Secretary of UBEC, lamented that the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were not coming forth with their counterpart funds that will enable them to access the annual matching grant.
What the Executive Secretary said while responding to a question on the total amount of un-accessed fund was that it was between N28 to N30 billion but insisted that the account department should supply the correct figures at the end of the briefing so that wrong information is not sent out to the public.
From the detail information supplied by the account department, the level of un-accessed matching grant from 2005-2021 as at 6th June, 2022 was N30.8 billion while the total of disbursements of matching grant to states stood at N533.7 billion over the same period.
If there is any great achievement the current Executive Secretary, Dr Hamid Bobboyi, has achieved is in bringing down drastically the level of un-accessed funds through stakeholders’ engagement while also ensuring transparent management of the Funds.
It is also important to state that anybody who is abreast with the way UBEC operates as an intervention Agency, would understand that there is no way it would release money to coffers of states up to N110 billion without utilisation.
The way UBEC operates is that you must utilise the first allocation to you before you are qualified to access the next year’s matching grant. It is evidence-based and the projects are also strictly monitored by the Commission.
It is also instructive to make it clear that the 50% counterpart fund, which is one of the requirements for accessing the matching grant is a law as contained in the UBEC Establishment Act and requires amendment by the National Assembly. As such, it is not what UBEC would wake up one day and change as was suggested in the said Editorial by the Sun Newspaper.
As it is currently is, 17 states have already accessed up to 4th quarter, 2021 matching grant so far. The States are: Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Katsina, Nasarawa, Osun, Taraba and Zamfara.
While all states and FCT have accessed 2005-2017 matching grant, three states of Anambra, Imo, and Ogun had not accessed any quarter in 2019 matching grant.
One expects that one of the most widely read newspaper like Sun, should have done due diligence by cross checking facts before publication.