Alleged Widespread Corruption at UBEC, SUBEBs Worries SERAP
By Adedapo Adesanya
An advocacy organisation in Nigeria, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has expressed strong concern over the allegations of corruption at the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs).
The group wants the federal government and relevant agencies to probe the alleged missing N3.84 billion documented in the 2017 annual report submitted by the Auditor-General of the Federation (AGF).
It was alleged that the two agencies in the education sector in Nigeria recorded widespread and systemic corruption, misappropriation and mismanagement of funds between 2004 and 2020.
SERAP wants the government to act fast and decisively and make public the outcome of any investigation, and to prosecute suspected perpetrators if there is relevant admissible evidence, as well as fully recover any missing public funds.
SERAP stated that allegations of corruption in UBEC and SUBEBs violate the right to education of millions of Nigerian children who continue to face unsuitable learning conditions, as shown by the poor learning and boarding facilities at the Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State.
In a statement, SERAP stressed that, “We would be grateful if your government would indicate the measures being taken to address the allegations and to implement the proposed recommendations within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter If we have not heard from by then as to the steps being taken in this direction, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel his government to implement these recommendations in the public interest, & to promote transparency & accountability in UBEC and SUBEBs.
“Allegations of corruption in UBEC & SUBEBs undermine public confidence in the education sector, lead to the erosion of education quality & access, & if not urgently addressed will lead to an increase in out-of-school children, & exacerbate educational inequalities in the country.
“According to the 2017 Annual Report by the Auditor-General of the Federation, UBEC spent N7,712,000.00 to engage external solicitors between January to December 2015 without due process and the approval of the Attorney General of the Federation.
“UBEC also reportedly failed to explain the nature of the legal services rendered. The Auditor-General is concerned UBEC may have engaged ‘unqualified solicitors.
“The Plateau State Universal Basic Education Board also reportedly failed to account for N37, 200,000.00 despite repeated requests by the Auditor-General.
“The Plateau SUBEB also spent N9,709,989 without any payment vouchers. The SUBEB spent N1,607,007,353.72 Special Intervention funds by the federal government without any documents.
“The Plateau SUBEB also paid N10, 341,575.00 to various contractors without evidence of advance payment guarantee. The SUBEB paid N70,569,471.00 through cheques to a member of staff, in violation of the Federal Government e-payment policy.
“The SUBEB also failed to explain the purpose of the payment. It spent N120,948,000.00 on the professional development of teachers but failed to retire and account for the money.
“The Imo State Universal Basic Education Board reportedly spent N482,560,000.00 as mobilization fees to some contractors without due process and any advance payment guarantee. The contracts were funded from the Matching Grant Account.
“The Auditor-General stated that the contractors selected lacked ‘the financial capacity to handle the contracts.’ The SUBEB has also failed to account for N140,774,702.12 of project fund since 2015.
“The Kano State Universal Basic Education Board reportedly paid N71,263,000.15 to contractors without due process and without open competitive bidding.
“Similarly, the Ebonyi SUBEB paid N569,758,938.00 to ‘unqualified contractors and companies’ for the reconstruction and renovation of classrooms. The Ebonyi SUBEB also spent N10,123,892.46 to buy store items but without any documents.
“The Gombe SUBEB paid N31,822,600.00 to a staff from its teachers’ professional development funds but failed to account for the money. The Auditor-General is concerned that ‘the payment is fictitious’, and that ‘the funds did not benefit the intended beneficiaries.’
“The SUBEB also reportedly paid N41,277,983.00 as cash advance to staff to ‘buy some materials and for press coverage but failed to account for the money.
“SERAP is concerned about allegations of widespread and systemic corruption, misappropriation and mismanagement within UBEC and several SUBEBs, the failure to investigate these allegations, and to recover any missing public funds.
“The federal government bears responsibility for ensuring that every Nigerian child has access to quality education in a conducive learning environment, and to safeguard education as a public good, govt’s responsibility to guarantee & ensure the right to quality education for every Nigerian child is interlinked with the responsibility under Section 15(5) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 [as amended] to ‘abolish all corrupt practices & abuse of office.’
“This imposes a fundamental obligation to investigate the missing public funds from UBEC and SUBEBs, to prosecute suspected perpetrators, recover the money, and to remove opportunities for corruption in these institutions.
“Access to quality education would empower children to be full and active participants in society, able to exercise their rights and engage in civil and political life.”
OOU Introduces Work-Study Programme to Reduce Attrition
By Adedapo Adesanya
To boost employment numbers and reduce the alarming attrition of students, Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago Iwoye, Ogun State, has announced the commencement of a work-study programme for skilled students to earn while still attending classes.
The university said in a statement issued by its Registrar, Mr Femi Ogunwomoju, that the initiative would help ease the financial burden on parents and guardians and reduce the rate at which students drop out of school due to financial constraints.
Mr Ogunwomoju said the programme, through the directorate of entrepreneurship studies, “will enable students with demonstrable and proven vocational skills to work in the university and earn some stipends and still attend classes.”
Nigeria has the second highest number of unemployed youths in the world, with 53 per cent of the youth population without jobs. This country is second to only South Africa, which has 61 per cent youth unemployment.
OOU said it launched the work-study programme during its 40th anniversary in February to checkmate the increasing rate of dropouts in the institution.
“When we noticed the rate at which students were dropping out, we did the SWOT analysis of what happened to them,” said the university’s Vice-Chancellor, Mr Ayodeji Agboola, was quoted as saying in the statement.
“We came to realise that the major problem there is funding. So, we instituted immediate funding, but of course, it cannot take care of all of them,” the professor said.
He said the university, therefore, resolved to cater for 500 students under the work-study programme.
“With work studies, we are sure that the majority of them will be accommodated, and that will also solve the problem,” he said.
Students of the university who are interested and qualified to be part of the programme are requested to fill out a form.
The university management, therefore, urged interested qualified students should register through the Directorate of Entrepreneurship Studies within two weeks beginning from May 25.
200 Undergraduates to Enjoy Stanbic IBTC N80m University Scholarship Scheme
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
No fewer than 200 undergraduates who performed well in the University Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) will enjoy N80 million worth of educational support from Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc.
The funds would be disbursed to the beneficiaries under the Stanbic IBTC 2023 University Scholarship Award Scheme.
The selection process for the scholarships was rigorous and fair, with beneficiaries chosen from each of the six geo-political zones in Nigeria. The candidates were carefully evaluated based on merit, taking into account their exceptional academic performance, the organisation said.
The 200 scholarship recipients will be able to pursue their dreams with financial confidence, knowing that Stanbic IBTC will stand firmly by their side.
The company disclosed that the money would be given to the students in annual instalments over the course of four academic years. It would provide recipients with the essential financial assistance required to meet their educational expenses.
Subsequent disbursements will be contingent upon the beneficiaries fulfilling certain criteria. These criteria include maintaining their enrolment in the universities and degree programs to which they were admitted, as well as adhering to the academic and administrative policies set forth by their respective institutions, the firm stated.
By ensuring compliance with these requirements, the recipients can continue to receive the scholarship throughout their academic journey, facilitating their uninterrupted pursuit of higher education, it added.
“At Stanbic IBTC, we recognize the importance of education and its role in shaping the future of our great nation, Nigeria.
“Our principal objective for this scholarship is to provide unlimited opportunities for bright, young Nigerians who have demonstrated academic merit,” the chief executive of Stanbic IBTC, Mr Demola Sogunle, said.
He noted that the number of annual scholarship recipients was increased from 100 to 200, as education should not be a luxury reserved for a select few but accessible to all.
By investing in the academic journeys of these exceptional students, the leading end-to-end financial institution will not only make a difference in their lives but also contribute to the development and prosperity of the nation as a whole.
Wema Bank Employees Donate Items to Isale Eko Grammar School
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
It was an exciting moment for students of Isalẹ Eko Grammar School, Lagos and a fulfilling time for employees of Wema Bank Plc when they delivered some tables and chairs to the institution last Friday.
The items were donated to the school as part of the financial institution’s corporate social investment (CSI) initiative aimed to contribute to the development of education in the country, especially in its host communities.
It was gathered that Wema Bank employees purchased the items for the school by contributing the salaries under the Salary for Love campaign of the lender.
The bank expressed optimism that the items would undoubtedly transform the learning environment, creating a haven of comfort and inspiration for the students as they embark on their academic journeys.
Apart from the furniture donation, Wema Bank extended its support even further by bestowing scholarships upon two students of Isalẹ Eko Grammar School.
These scholarships, provides invaluable financial assistance and will serve as stepping stones for these exceptional students as they unlock their full potential and courageously chase their dreams.
At the presentation of the items to the school, the Head of Credit Risk Management at Wema Bank, Mr Uchenna Obazeh, emphasized the bank’s firm belief in the transformative power of education.
He commended the unwavering dedication of Wema Bank’s staff members and their resolute commitment to supporting education within the community.
“Through the ‘Salary for Love’ initiative, our employees have showcased their exceptional devotion to shaping a brighter future through education. We are humbled to contribute to the growth and development of Isale Eko Grammar School, as we remain steadfast in our mission of corporate citizenship,” he said.
In his remarks, the Principal of Isalẹ Eko Grammar School, Mr Mukaila Olatoye, expressed deep gratitude on behalf of the institution, recognizing the profound influence this generous donation will have on the students’ educational pursuits.
Also, the students thanked Wema Bank for the donation.
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