By NBF News
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• Dr. Ahmed Modibbo, UBEC boss
The news was received with shock and disbelief when the management of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) announced, some months ago, that some states have failed to access matching grants running into billions of naira for primary/basic education. In a swift reaction, various state governments denied being among the states yet to take advantage of the funds.

Even after the disclosure by UBEC management and some state governments' denial, getting details of the states and the amounts involved was like a camel passing through the eyes of the needle as efforts by Daily Sun to get the list met a brickwall from the commission staff including the Public Relations Officer.

But when Daily Sun finally got the list containing the 36 states and FCT, it discovered that the amount un-accessed from 2006 to 2010 was really mind-boggling, with states like Edo, Borno, Ogun, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kano, Ebonyi, Cross River and Lagos topping the list while three states – Adamawa, Kastina and Ondo states bring the rear, with least amounts of grants.

The document titled: 'Un-accessed matching grant for 2005 to 2010 as at December 31' revealed that the 36 states including the FCT are yet to access over N36, 606,532,052.83, with three states accounting for N173, 375,903 each, being the lowest amount.

A breakdown of the un-accessed funds revealed that in 2006, two states (Edo and Kaduna) failed to collect 27,540,637.05. For 2007, three states – Bauchi, Edo and Sokoto accounted for N668, 595, 213 , while 11 states, namely Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Kano, Nassarawa, Ogun and Plateau, in 2008 did not access N7, 680,979,703.56.

In 2009, 15 states accessed the grant of N531, 121,621.62 leaving 20 states that failed to collect the fund totaling N9, 405, 758, 470.40. For 2010, the 36 states including FCT did not utilize the grant put at N18, 823,658,001.82.

For 2010, each state was billed to receive N622, 781,965.64 grant from UBEC while 13 states collected some amount which reduced theirs.

For instance, Adamawa, Katsina, Ondo and Taraba collected N173,375,901 million each while Gombe, Jigawa, FCT, Yobe and Kaduna collected N323,177,904 million each. Kogi State's balance is N310,781,965.

Further breakdown of the total grant for each states from 2006 to 2010 shows that Edo state topped the list with N2,374,200,884.98 followed by Borno with N2,013,715,093.98 while Cross River, Ebonyi, Kano, Nassarawa, Ogun and Plateau states were yet to access N1,986,336,021.98.

Others with un-accessed grants are Adamawa, Katsina, Ondo and Taraba, with each having N173, 375,872.04 to access. Lagos State was credited with N323, 177, 921. 72 in the un-accessed fund. Attempts by Daily Sun to seek clarifications from the Commissioners for Education in various states yet to access the fund met a brickwall as some refused to respond to text messages. In fact, it was so bizarre that a particular state commissioner for education denied being the commissioner after he picked the call and acknowledged greetings. But he was to quickly deny being the Commissioner for Education the moment the subject was broached and the amount his state is supposed to collect was announced to him.

Responding, one of the media aides to Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State, on Sunday, January 16, promised to get back to Daily Sun after discussing with the Commissioner for Education, Dr. Kay Onyechi on the amount (N1, 153,903,589.98) un-accessed by his state. But he never did.

The Commissioners for Education in Kogi State, Dr. S. Onoja and his Ogun State counterpart, Professor Segun Awonusi, each denied having their states on the number of those yet to access their education grants. But that was before Daily Sun eventually got the list. Likewise, attempts to reach the Enugu State Education Commissioner, Dr. Chuks Ogwuike whose pupils still sit on the bare floor in some schools to read and write, as shown by the cover story of Education Review of November 2010, proved abortive, as calls and text messages sent to his phone went unanswered. The UBEC document listed the state as having N1, 153, 903, 590.98 billion unclaimed grants.

The Osun State Government also failed to respond to enquiries by Daily Sun although its Assistant Director (Press), Mr. Gbenga Fayemiwo, like his Anambra State counterpart, promised to do so when confronted with the facts on Sunday, January 16, on why the state has not accessed its 2010 UBEC grant totaling N622, 781,968.36.

Stakeholders contacted by Daily Sun expressed shock that such an amount (N36, 606,532,052.83) is lying unutilized by the states while educationist, Mr. Tunde Oguntade described the action of the states as criminal and asked the stakeholders to demand for an explanation from their various state governors why they failed to access such an amount for the development of the education sector.

Investigations by Daily Sun revealed that the states are opposed to imposition by the commission on what to do with the grants and in some cases, items to be purchased are forced down the throat of the state Universal Basic Education (UBE) while others want the 'stringent' conditions attached to the grant watered down.

Other major reason why states have not accessed the N36 billion is that many are yet to account for previous funds collected and the development has denied the states of the use of the resources to better primary and basic education.