How UBEC Blacklisted Kwara Over Diversion Of N1.5bn Funds

Kwara State was black listed by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) because the then state government mismanaged the N1.5bn grant meant to upgrade schools in Kwara in 2013.

This was revealed on Thursday during a visit of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq to the UBEC headquarters in Abuja.

Officials told the governor that the sum of N1.5bn was allotted to Kwara in 2013 with a request for the state to pay another N1.5bn as counterpart funding.

The officials said the government was later discovered to have borrowed the N1.5bn from a bank with which it immediately accessed the UBEC fund.

Upon receipt of the UBEC’s N1.5b, Kwara returned the N1.5b it had borrowed from the bank and then diverted the UBEC’s N1.5b without investing it in educational infrastructure as required by law, they said

This led to UBEC blacklisting Kwara and demanding for immediate refund of its N1.5b.

Kwara later refunded N1.050b leaving an outstanding of N450 million which the Abdulfatai Ahmed’s administration never paid to UBEC.

AbdulRazaq was told that UBEC will only do business with Kwara when the outstanding N450m is refunded to UBEC by Kwara.

The Kwara delegation led by AbdulRazaq promised to pay the N450m to enable the state to access the funds to develop its schools.

Kwara has not accessed UBEC funds since 2013.

UBEC has at least N5.6 billion available for Kwara which can only be accessed if and when the state pays the outstanding debt of N450m.

AbdulRazaq’s visit to UBEC came barely 48 hours after he visited decrepit schools in the northern senatorial district of Kwara where most of the schools’ roofs had collapsed.

He had promised to look into the devastating state of the infrastructure across the state especially in schools, hospitals and road networks.

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FG To Disburse N142bn UBEC Fund To States

The Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, says it will soon disburse 142.6 billion Naira to states and the Federal Capital Territory for the development of needed facilities in public primary and junior secondary schools across the country.

Executive Secretary of UBEC, Hamid Bobboyi,  in a news briefing, said 50 percent of the money is sourced from deductions from the state’s share of the Paris Club Refund and the other half is the marching grant for UBEC.

The sliding standard of Nigeria’s basic education remains a source of concern.

The government, however, said it is not unaware of the situation and is not happy with states which have not made effort to access their funds with UBEC especially the South East states since 2014.

States are to contribute 50 percent before they can access their funds, but many have been unable to meet their obligation leaving government to use the Paris Club Refund to assists all states of the federation.

Government is also to set up a monitoring team to follow up on prompt implementation of projects by states. Two percent of the money will be allocated for teacher development.

Although private schools posed a challenge, the government said it has successfully conducted a head count of teachers and pupils in primary and secondary schools across the country, it promised to present an accurate figure of out-of-school children in Nigeria while expressing concern that Nigeria leads in out-of-school children.

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UBEC Amendment: Malala Yousafzai Commends Saraki, Senate

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate, has commended the 8th Senate, and its President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki for its recent amendment to the Universal Basic Education Act, which extends the right to free education across Nigeria from nine years to twelve years for all children.

In a tweet on her personal Twitter handle on Friday, 11th August, @Malala, Yousafzai stated the following:

“Good news from Nigeria. Thank you to @bukolasaraki and the Senate!”

While in a more formal reaction, the Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Malala Fund, Philippa Lei, issued the following statement:

“Malala Fund welcomes the recent amendment to Nigeria’s Universal Basic Education Act, extending the right to free education from nine years to 12 years for all children.

“Nigeria is the richest country in Africa, but has more girls out of school than any other country in the continent. Studies are clear — education girls through senior secondary school grows economies, reduces conflict and improves health.

“Nigeria has the resources to educate girls and transform the country. We hope this amendment signal that Nigeria’s leaders are serious about education,” the Malala Fund said.

A Saturday August 12th, 2017, response to the Malala Fund from the Office of the Senate President’s handle, @SPNigeria, read:

“Yes, @MalalaFund and @Malala@NGRSenate and @SPNigeria @bukolasaraki remain committed to taking children off the streets and back to class!”

Recall that last month, the Senate amended the Compulsory, Free, Universal Basic Education Act of 2004 with a clause that will make primary and secondary education free and compulsory across the country.

Additionally, the amendment will ease pressure on states in accessing funds for infrastructure development, by reducing the 50% counterpart funding clause to access education intervention funds from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), downward to only 10%.

This is aimed at providing access to the over N60 billion that has accumulated in UBEC to fund education in Nigeria’s 36 States.

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The Dangers Of Reading UBEC Books By Its Cover, By Ugo Jim-Nwoko

Apart from the incursion of the military into politics and national life in the late 1960s, which eventually led to the Civil War, no other social crisis has threatened and weakened the social and moral fabric of the Nigerian society like the crises at every level of our educational system.

Every society is as good as its educational system. So, the anti-corruption war and moral rearmament crusade of the President Muhamamadu Buhari government will not be effective and result oriented in the long term, if the searchlight fails to be on the education sector and the new transparent order instituted in our curriculum of studies and management of public affairs.

The Nigerian education is riddled with unbridled corruption. This situation has affected negatively every aspect of our national life. The sector over the years has been managed in a manner most unbecoming of a system with a responsibility for the building up of young minds and empowerment of the society for technological advancement and breakthrough. It is a cesspool of malfeasance to the extent that the masses of the Nigerian people who ought to benefit from an efficient and good standard of education from public schools have been short-changed. Private citizens who have had the privilege of occupying public offices have used the opportunity to loot the public resources meant for the education of the children of the poor, while theirs patronise private academic institutions mainly because such individuals have the capacity to pay based on their ill-gotten wealth.

President Buhari needs to direct his anti-graft searchlight on the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC). It is the most abused public institution; among all others, set up for the educational good of the poor and the ordinary citizens. The UBE Act 2004 makes provision for basic education comprising of Primary and Junior Secondary Education. The financing of basic education is the responsibility of States and Local Governments. However, the Federal Government has decided to intervene in the provision of basic education with 2% of its Consolidated Revenue Fund. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo flagged off UBE on 30th September 1999 in Sokoto. The UBE Programme is Nigeria’s strategy for the achievement of Education for All (EFA) and the education-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

This is why the event of Thursday, the 7th of June 2012, wherein the Federal Ministry of Education through its then Ministers, Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufai and Nyesom Wike told the Nigerian people that a total sum of N68.6 billion was to be spent by the Federal Government in the purchase of text books for the Universal Basic Education Programme still baffles Nigerians. It was the national flag-off ceremony held in a government-owned secondary school in Maitama, Abuja for the distribution of primary one and two text books and library resource materials for junior secondary schools nationwide. From an innocuous point, this policy appeared well thought out, intended to advance the cause of the poor.

However, the painful fact is that public policies like this were used under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan as channels of looting public resources by the occupants of public offices in the education sector. Going by the 68.6 billion naira which the ministry claimed was spent on UBE books for primary and junior secondary schools nationwide, when the UBE statutory allocation in 2012 was 68 billion naira; one wonders why and how the federal government was spending more than the budgetary allocation and only on books?

In 2012, development workers in the country raised relevant budgetary and transparent issues concerning this project and the issue of other sources of revenue to the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), which may have come mainly from the development partners without the commission showing due disclosure as required by the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007. Civil society groups also questioned the logistic framework for the implementation of this seemingly laudable programme for the improvement of standards in the much scandalised and violated educational sector in Nigeria.

Since the inception of UBEC, statutory transfers are made to the commission without any breakdown in their budgetary allocation for the Nigerian citizens interested in monitoring the spending of public resources and the work of the Commission to effectively follow up. This was violations of the relevant sections of the Freedom of Information Act and the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007. Specifically, Section 48 (1) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007 requires the Federal Government to ensure that its financial and fiscal affairs are conducted in a transparent manner and accordingly ensure full and timely disclosure and publication of all transactions and decisions involving public revenues and expenditures and its implications for its finances.

President Buhari’s administration should endeavour to investigate financial transactions in most educational agencies of the federal government with the aim of revamping the sector especially as it concerns public educational institutions. Federal and State government owned institutions on annual basis have more budgetary allocations , be they primary, secondary or tertiary institutions than the privately-owned ones but despite this fact, the resources meant for the public institutions are looted by those who have the responsibility to ensuring judicious use of these resources in the interest of the common good. Private academic institutions are more efficiently and effectively managed with lesser resources because of the optimal use of available resources. That way they attract better patronage while public institutions are prostrate leaving the masses of the Nigerian children with poor quality education.

On the implementation mechanism of most UBEC policies and programmes like the notorious Purchase and Distribution of textbooks for Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme Nigerians were worried that a project that guzzled up to 68.6 billion of tax payer’s money and meant to uplift the standard of education was kicked off in a high brow school in Maitama, Abuja where only the Nigerian elites’ children have access to.

According to the then minister of education, Professor Ruqayatu Ahmed Rufai, “the distribution of books and library resources and materials to primary and secondary schools had become imperative as basic education was a guaranteed entitlement for every Nigerian child…basic education can be costly and discouraging especially for socio-economically disadvantaged parents hence the policy thrust of the federal government to procure text books in the core subject areas of the basic education curriculum and library resource materials to primary and secondary schools nationwide.” The, then, Minister of State for Education and now Governor of Rivers State, Ezenwo Wike, noted that scarcity of appropriate text books and instructional materials remain one of the most serious impediments to the quality of education as the books would complement the efforts of state governments in addressing the challenges of basic education.
I was worried by the superlative claims of the Federal Ministry of Education to the extent that the Nigerian taxpayer may have ended up buying books for the elite children under the guise of supplying books to UBEC for distribution to schools. We, in the civil society movement in Nigeria did not see the school children in Kaura-Namoda, Ehime Mbano, Nsukka, Iseyin, Ngor-Okpala, Michika, Ahoada, Zungeru, Nembe, Boki, Owu, Iseyin and in several other communities in Nigeria have access to these books beyond the drama that were acted in Maitama, Abuja and other state capitals in Nigeria.

The Ministry of Education and its policy makers did not ensure transparency in their spending habits and the award of contracts so that the people can have the full benefits of their commonwealth.

Ugo Jim-Nwoko, development policy and budget analyst writes from Abuja

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Gov. Wike, Patience Jonathan Fingered In N180bn UBEC Fraud

Few days after it was revealed that Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike did not return the 15 vehicles he took from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) for his gubernatorial campaign, the embattled Governor has again been fingered in another multi-billion naira fraud at the Commission alongside the immediate past First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan.

The fraudulent activities were said to have occurred in UBEC under the watch of Mr. Wike as Minister of State for Education.

A Lagos-based whistle-blower operating under the aegis of Nigeria Against Corruption Group (NACG) alleged in a statement issued and signed by its National Coordinator Mr. Tayo Olusola that Mr. Wike siphoned billions of naira under the UBE program when he was in charge of the Education ministry.

The statement reads: “Investigation conducted by us revealed that the Rivers governor and the former first lady, allegedly plundered over N180 billion from the UBEC purse using fronts in the commissions office.

“Sources confirmed that UBEC programs and contracts during the tenure of Chief Wike, were used as a facade to loot billions of naira for little or no work done.

“But the man who runs the operations on behalf of Wike and directs which account and fund to privilege is Mr. Hama, the so called SA to the executive secretary of UBEC.

“Sources at UBEC disclosed that, “the SA tag is just a camouflage because the man is the defector Executive Secretary of UBEC.

“The executive secretary, Dr. Dikko dares not take any decision or implement anything without clearance from Mr, Hama who is one of Mr. Nyesom Wike’s enforcers at UBEC.

“Any program or project that does not provide an easy avenue for stealing huge sums of money does not get any attention no matter how vital that project may be to the educational system.”

“Some of the fraudulent schemes used in stealing billions of Naira year in year out are:

Teachings: “Billions of Naira are stolen each year by arrangement of bogus teaching programs in luxury hotels where little or nothing is achieved but billions of Naira are budgeted and wasted as the monies finds its way into private pockets. One of such fraudulent teachings schemes that occurred under Mr. Wike is now being investigated by the EFCC.

“The investigation involves the top management of UBEC and one of the fronts used in siphoning the money but, was not settled according to plan. In the said case, over 100 million was siphoned from UBEC for a fraudulent teaching program but, all that took place was a jamboree in a five star hotel.

Vocational Schools: “Billions of Naira was budgeted for the building of vocational schools but in most cases not much has been done even though huge sums have been disbursed and vanished under the watchful eyes of Mr. Wike.

Instructional Material Funds: “This is the biggest fraud that has been going on since the Jonathan administration came into office. During Wike’s tenure alone, over 60 billion has been on the dubious supply of free text books to students, but, actual amount of books supplied is not more than N5 Billion and the books in usable condition out there in the schools are not up to 200 million worth of books.

“The free textbooks supply scheme is a perfect cover for high yield frauds because billions of naira is budgeted to address a need that does not exist since parents are already providing these books for their wards.

“So nobody is clamoring for the books and nobody complains if they are not delivered. More importantly there is no way of verifying whether the supply was made since there is no standing stock as the books are assumed to be in the hands of the students.

“So each year the actual amount committed to supply of textbooks is about 10-15% of the budgeted amount, just for the purpose of launching the scheme in the states, the rest goes into private pockets. That is why the textbook supply is such a favored project in UBEC because

everyone from UBEC headquarters to the SUBEBS are settled while the student and our education system are short-changed.

“The involvement of the former first lady and Gov. Nyesom Wike made the textbook contractors untouchable. So while our schools remain empty without proper learning, the yearly pillage of government money goes on.”

The group further called on President Buhari to make good his promises to strengthen the EFCC and empower it to investigate and prosecute government officials including former ministers who had stolen billions of Naira during their tenure, expressing confidence that doing so the

president will recover a lot money to run the economy of the country.

Mrs. Patience Jonathan and Mr Nyesome Wike are not new to unholy alliance. Both joint forces during the last general election to criminally suppress the wish of the Rivers people as their thugs went on rampage across the state killing and injuring APC members.

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