By Balkis Tijani.
The Kwara State government Saturday announced a plan to obtain a N7.1bn loan in order to access UBEC funds for basic education.
The State executive council granted approval for the government to seek the loan facility from a bank as a counterpart fund to access over N14 billion outstanding Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) funds.
A statement issued in Ilorin on Saturday by the Commissioner for Communication, Mrs Harriet Afolabi-Osatimehin quoted the Commissioner for Finance and Planning, Mrs Florence Oyeyemi as saying.
According to Oyeyemi, the money will serve as 50 percent matching grant for the UBEC counterpart funds.
This, she said, would bridge the yawning gap in the basic education sector including strengthening infrastructure, training, and equipping teachers with modern teaching skills.
The commissioner for finance and planning added that the fund would be spent to provide instructional materials and purchasing vehicles to aid the performance of monitoring and quality assurance activities across the state.
Oyeyemi said that Kwara currently had Nigeria’s highest outstanding UBEC funds, following the commission blacklisting the state previously for diverting what it accessed in 2013.
The commissioner said Kwara exited the pariah status last year after the new administration paid back the N450 million that was diverted, although it still had an outstanding N7.1 billion with the UBEC.
Oyeyemi said the bank facility would be accessed and drawn in installment to provide the counterpart funds to be invested in the basic education sector
“Added to the N7.1 billion matching grants from UBEC, Kwara will be committing at least N14, 301, 843, 568.18 to revitalise the basic education sector across the state,” Oyeyemi said.
She told the cabinet that the facility became necessary in the face of dwindling resources to subnational governments across the country and the overarching need in Kwara to invest in basic education for a brighter future.
Oyeyemi said that the cabinet’s decision would be conveyed to the House of Assembly for their approval and inclusion of the same in a supplementary budget, which the government may pass to deepen investments across productive sectors of the economy.