The House of Representatives has called for a proper investigation into the utilisation of funds released for Nigeria’s education sector in 2019.
The house committee on basic education and services said this during a visit to the ministry of education in Abuja on Tuesday over the implementation of the 2019 budget.
The education minister, Adamu Adamu, during the meeting, said the ministry was only able to achieve 40 per cent implementation of the 2019 budget due to poor budgetary releases and time constraint.
The lawmakers, led by the chairman of the committee, Julius Ihonvbere, earlier said the education sector is underfunded. They appealed to the 774 local governments to fund it at the grassroots level.
“It is obvious that the sector is underfunded, there is no how less than 50 per cent release of the appropriation act will address the challenges of the sector, it is important that the local government areas must begin to fund education at the basic level,” the chairman said.
He said it is important to know how the released funds are utilised.
“It is more about how the funds released are utilised. We need to see the projects the funds released were used on as well as the quality of work done in the sector,” he said.
Adamu, during the meeting, appealed to the National Assembly to increase the budgetary allocation to the education sector to 15 per cent in the 2021 National Budget, ”considering the level of decay and decadence in the education sector”.
Adamu said the ministry was only able to achieve 40 per cent implementation of the 2019 budget due to due to poor budget releases and time constraint.
The minister said the total amount appropriated to the education sector in 2019 was N634.5 billion with a percentage of capital releases to the sector as 42.96 per cent.
Adamu said out of the N58.7 billion allocated to the federal ministry of education in 2019, only N25.2 billion was released to agencies, universities, polytechnics and unity colleges.
According to the minister, in the 2019 sectoral capital appropriation act, N11 billion was allocated to universities while only N3 billion was released. Of the N2.5 billion appropriated to colleges of education, only N957.6 million was released, he said.
For the unity colleges, he said N10 billion was allocated to over 104 Nigerian government colleges but only N5 billion was released for implementation of projects in the schools.
Adamu said N84.7 billion was allocated to the education ministry in the 2020 appropriation act for it to attend to the needs of 19 agencies, 43 federal universities and five inter-university centres.
“In the summary of the 2020 appropriation act, N10.4 billion is allocated to unity schools, N11.8 billion is allocated to universities, N5.7 billion appropriated to colleges of education, N2.6 billion allocated to polytechnics while N35.2 billion was allocated to agencies under the federal ministry of Education,” the minister said.
”Though the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recommended 26 per cent, there was the need to compare what Nigeria was allocated to education with some African countries such as Rwanda that allocates about N22 per cent of her budget to education,” he said.
Meanwhile, Adamu said the sector was bedevilled with challenges of ”acute shortage of classrooms, hostel accommodation, laboratories and library facilities, inadequate teaching personnel, unqualified teachers, poor and inadequate provision of information and communication technology (ICT) facilities and lack of security infrastructure in schools”.
He also expressed sadness about the high number of out-of-school children in the country. The minister said the government would soon set up an education watch group to ensure that children were in school.
Currently, the out school children in Nigeria according to the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) is about 10.2 million.
On the delay in the completion of the National Library project, Adamu said the complex was yet to be completed due to inadequate budgetary provisions over the years.
He said about N46 billion is required to complete the multi-billion naira edifice, whose construction had begun in 2006 with an initial completion period of 22 months.
He said considering the importance of the National Library to the nation, the ministry has written the president to possibly direct the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to invest in completion of the project.
He said about N232 million was appropriated to the complex in 2019 while the same N232 million was appropriated in 2020. He said this amount was grossly inadequate to complete the complex.
Adamu urged state governors to invest more in basic education ”and do more to access the matching grant from the UBEC.”
He also called for the dedication of 1 per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) to the funding of the newly approved National Secondary Education Commission so as to ensure its take-off while also increasing the UBEC’s 2 per cent of CRF to 3 per cent to boost the Commission’s intervention effort.
The federal government last year inaugurated a 15-man committee for the take-off of the National Commission for Secondary Education.
The law establishing the commission was signed in 1999 but was never implemented.