By Lukman Olabiyi, Lagos
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Basic Education, Prof Julius Ihonvbere, has disclosed why the governments of Lagos and other states were unable to access Universal Basic Education (UBE) funds.
Ihonvbere made the disclosure on Monday when he led his committee to visit Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in office.
The representative attributed the massive deduction of money from the UBE during the COVID-19 crisis as the reason the Lagos State Government was unable to access the funds despite providing counterpart funding.
He disclosed that at the height of the COVID-19 crisis, N20.2 billion was deducted from the fund of UBE.
‘Our visit here is part of our constitutional responsibility to periodically look into what is being done by the states with the funds it received; the matching grant from the Universal Basic Education. Is instructive that will starting with Lagos, with Lagos will set standard high and it will influence what will go and look at in other states,’ Ihonvbere said.
‘Lagos has done very well in terms of paying its matching grant. In fact, I am also aware that Lagos has paid for 2019 but not accessed it yet; this is a result of massive deduction of money from UBE during the COVID-19 crisis. N20.2 billion was taken from the UBE so they are unable to pay as quickly as possible. You still have about N2.2 billion to access with the UBE. So far, nationwide in the last 10 years, the UBE has paid about N37 billion to states to deploy to infactstrures, particularly in schools, training, capacity-building and so on.’
Ihonvbere commended Governor Sanwo-Olu’s leadership and his administration for being a pace setter, as he spoke of the need to address issues of infrastructure deficits in some schools visited in the state.
In his response, Governor Sanwo-Olu thanked the committee for the visit, saying the exercise would help in the proper peer review of SUBEB and UBE funds as well as initiating projects to improve the learning outcome in Lagos schools.
The Lagos governor said that though some of UBE matching grants have not been accessed, his administration is committing twelve percent of its 2021 budget to improve education as well as embarking on school infrastructure rehabilitation, curriculum and contents development which included the provision of Eko Excel tablets for teachers in its bid to provide quality basic education for children.
The governor restated the commitment of his administration to partner the UBE and Local governments in the state to look at issues raised by the committee, including the provision of playgrounds for school children and perimeter fencing, among other basic amenities.