TWENTY-SEVEN states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, have failed to access the sum of N54.9bn basic education fund provided by the Universal Basic Education Commission.

The funds are lying fallow, despite the growing number of out-of-school children in the country.

The N54.9bn figure is obtained from a document prepared by UBEC in March 2024, showing state-by-state matching grants not accessed.

The document, which was signed by UBEC’s Director of Finance and Account, Adamu Misau, said the sum of N54.9bn was not accessed by states as of March 28, 2024.

According to the data on the document, Jigawa, Sokoto and Zamfara states in the North-West; Borno and Taraba states in the North-East; Nasarawa State in the North Central; Ondo State in the South-West; Enugu State in the South-East and Delta State in the South-South have fully accessed their funds.

However, the document stated that Kaduna State failed to access the sum of N1.3bn in 2023; Kano State failed to access the sum of N581m in the same year, with Katsina and Kebbi states also failing to access the sum of N1.3bn each in 2023.

Adamawa and Bauchi states, according to the data, jointly failed to access the funds from 2022 (N1.2bn) and 2023 (N1.3bn) respectively.

Gombe State failed to access the sum of N1.3bn from 2023 while Yobe State failed to access the same amount in the same year.

Benue, Kwara and Niger states owed an accumulated sum of N2.6bn individually, due to their failure to access the intervention funds in 2022 and 2023.

Kogi, Plateau states and the FCT presently have N1.3bn each not accessed, which is presently lodged with the commission from the 2023 disbursement.

Ekiti and Lagos states also failed to access the sum of N1.3bn each from the 2023 disbursement.

Further analysis of the data revealed that Ogun State remained one of the highest debtors on the list, having failed to access intervention funds from 2020 to 2023, taking to total amount not accessed by the state to N4.2bn.

Like Ogun State, Abia State also failed to access the sum of N4.2bn intervention funds from 2020 to 2023, while Rivers State had the sum of N697m with the commission.

Osun and Oyo states currently have the sum of N1.3bn and N2.6bn with the commission respectively.

Anambra and Ebonyi states jointly failed to access the sum of N2.6bn each, while the fund not accessed by Imo State stood at N3.5bn, being the accumulated sum from 2021 to 2023.

Akwa-Ibom and Bayelsa states both failed to access the sum of N1.3bn each from the 2023 disbursement, while Edo State had the sum of N2.6bn with the commission from the 2022 and 2023 disbursements.

The total amount unacessed by states in 2020 stood at N1.4bn; N2.8bn in 2021; N14.4bn in 2022 and N36.1bn in 2023.

In February 2024, Human rights lawyer, Mrs Funmi Falana (SAN), dragged the 36 state governments and the FCT before the Federal High Court in Lagos, over their failure to access N68bn UBEC funds to provide free basic education for their citizens.

The senior advocate said the states failed to pay the counterparts funds necessary to access the UBEC funds to provide free basic education for citizens.

Also joined as defendants in the suit were the Attorney-General of the Federation, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), the Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman (SAN) and UBEC.

But The NGF’s Education Advisor, Dr Ebenezer Leo The Great, in a recent interview with Saturday PUNCH, disclosed that the UBEC fund was trapped due to the inability of state governments to raise the 50 per cent counterpart of the amount they need.

“The issue is the difficulty faced by states to access funds in UBEC. We’re looking at how to change the legislation, amend the UBEC Act to reduce the matching grant, that is the counterpart fund that states are supposed to pay to access the fund,” he said.

Reacting to the report on Tuesday, the Chairman of Ogun State UBEC, Dr Femi Majekodunmi, said the state government was aware of the situation and working towards accessing the fund.

Majekodunmi said, “What really happened is that the current administration of Governor Dapo Abiodun inherited about six months of backlog. I think the intervention was accessed last in 2013 until 2019 when Governor Abiodun came on board and started addressing the challenge. We are quite aware and we are not resting on our oars. Very soon, we will do the needful.”

Also reacting, the Osun State Commissioner for Information and Public Engagement, Kolapo Alimi, said more counterpart funding would be made available to UBEC for the state to access more funding.

Alimi, who said Governor Ademola Adeleke would continue to give priority to issues around education,  said, “The government is working on payment of more counterpart funds.

“We are always ahead of many states, so very soon we are going to attend to it based on the availability of resources.

“We will not allow the interest of Osun State to suffer. Based on the availability of funds, the issue of counterpart funds for UBEC will be given priority.”

Similarly, the Executive Secretary of the  Benue State Universal Basic Education Board, Dr Grace Adagba, said, “The state government has concluded all arrangements to access the intervention funds.”

However, the Chairman, Ekiti State UBEC, Prof. Femi Akinwumi, insisted that the state was up to date.

Akinwunmi said, “Never, they (UBEC) cannot mention Ekiti. Ekiti is one of the foremost states accessing the funds. The only outstanding for Ekiti is the 2023 fund.

“It is a process, which, of course, the state government has started. Mr Governor has unanimously approved the sum of N1.3bn for the 2023 counterpart fund.

“The way they (UBEC) do it is that for 2022, you access it in 2023, for 2023, you access it in 2024. We will access that of 2023 this year.”

The Kano State UBEC Secretary, Hajiya Amina Umar, said, “The usual thing is that UBEC will notify us that the intervention funds are ready and from there we will release the counterpart fund in the account before accessing it.”

Efforts to reach the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotosho, proved abortive on Tuesday as calls made to his line only rang out. A text message sent to him was not responded to as of the time of filing this report.