Nigeria News

NIGERIA: FG Criticises States for Not Prioritising Education

 The federal government has taken a swipe at some state governments for not prioritising educational development in their states despite the country's 10.5 million out-of-school children.

It also disclosed that the N53 billion budgeted for basic education in the states had not been accessed because of the failure of the state governments to provide counterpart funding.

The supervising Minister of Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, while speaking at the the presentation of the scorecard of the Ministry in Abuja yesterday, said such state governments only pretend to make education a priority, and have refused to take concrete steps to develop the sector.

"If they provide their counterpart funding, it means we should have about N70 billion and that would do a lot for the quality in the sector if we invest that kind of money," he said.

"It is not about you spending money to bring all the big people to come and speak in your state. It is not about going to America and bringing the democrats to come and speak, channel the money into the projects in the sector," he added.

Wike disclosed that N139 billion had been disbursed to states for education infrastructure development in the last one year with N21 billion provided for teachers' training in the states in the last four years.

Each state, he said, had received at least N588 million from the federal government since 2010 to train its teachers even though they are not in the employ of the federal government.

"But when you hear that they are training teachers, they will not admit that some of the money came from the federal government. States should be able to admit that some of their schools were built with funds from UBEC, and not from their own treasuries," he added.

Citing other achievements of the current administration in the education sector, Wike noted that the carrying capacities of universities have been increased from 400,000 in 2011 to a million.

He lamented that the Presidential Scholarship Scheme for Innovation and Development (PRESSID) which is based solely on merit had come under fire from several quarters for not taking the principle of federal character into cognisance.

Wike emphasised that the current administration had done more for the education sector than any other before it.

"When you have this kind of leadership, do you lose it? No, you hold on to that kind of leadership, because this is not easy to come by. Nigerians must hold on to what they have," he said.

Wike cited some of the challenges plaguing the sector to include lack of commitment by states and communities, security challenges and lack of viable data to support plans for development in the sector.

The Minister for Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, berated the states that had un-accessed funds, saying they contribute significantly to Nigeria's 10.5 million out-of-school children, a situation which is currently embarrassing the nation at international fora.
He added that majority of the states are from the northern states and suggested that the list of the states be published in national dailies to force the hands of the governments to access the funds with their counterpart funding.

Maku also blamed the past military governments for the decline in the education sector as there were no systematic investments during their regimes.

"Good leadership is often very difficult to accept. Those who come to make changes possible are always resisted. We must begin to admit that this country is moving forward under this president, yet he is the most abused president in the history of this nation," he said.

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