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.”
Geodrill Donates to Equip Achimota School’s Science Lab Complex
As part of its commitment to support access to quality education in Ghana, a foremost stakeholder in the mining industry, Geodrill, has made a donation for equipping a science laboratory complex at Achimota School.
The firm, through its CEO, Mr David Harper, presented a cheque of GHS150,000 to the Old Achimotan Association (OAA) at a ceremony held on June 14.
Mr Harper emphasised the importance of education to the students present and he expressed his hope that their education at Achimota School, and particularly in science, would set them on the path to successful adult careers and to contribute meaningfully to the development of Ghana.
He revealed a longstanding association with the school where he used to play cricket, encouraging other companies to take their ESG obligations seriously and support worthy institutions to fulfil their mission.
Receiving the cheque, the President of the OAA and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Ernest Aryeetey, said the science lab was constructed with the support of corporate sponsors, who contributed about one-third of the total cost and the remainder from Achimota alumni.
The OAA and Achimota were still hopeful of receiving further contributions from other companies to sustainably fund the provision of science education and other programmes for the benefit of the students.
Geodrill, a leading drilling exploration company to the mining sector, is committed to being a socially responsible company that actively promotes social causes such as the education of Ghanaian youth. The support for the laboratory complex is yet another purposeful outcomes-based Geodrill ESG initiative.
JAMB Generates N5.9bn from 2021 UTME, Direct Entry Forms
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has generated N5,887,628,900.00 from the sale of forms for the 2021 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and Direct Entry (DE) examination to admission seekers into the nation’s tertiary institutions.
The cumulative figure was contained in the Financial Inflow column of the board’s weekly bulletin of April and May editions of 2021.
The registration for the exams started on April 10 nationwide and ended on May 29, this year with the exception of few candidates with special cases, who were given an extension of time to register.
The breakdown showed that 1,338,687 candidates registered for the UTME while 75,328 registered for the DE exam this year.
The examinations commenced on Saturday, June 19 and will end on Monday, July 5 in over 777 computer-based test centres nationwide.
The figures from the board’s bulletin showed that it generated N2,045,497,450.00 in the first few weeks when the sales of registration instruments opened to UTME applicants on April 10.
From the April 27 edition of the bulletin, the board said it raked in N739,050,000.00 from the sales of e-pins.
A weekly breakdown of the figures from the May 3 edition of the bulletin showed that the board generated N663,250,000.00 from selling e-registration pins.
In the May 10 edition, the figures showed that the board generated N682,200,000.00 revenue from sales of registration instruments for the examination.
According to the figures from the bulletin of May 17, edition, the board raked in N833,800,000.00 from the sales of e-registration pins.
Also, between May 23 and 31 edition, the board generated N810,131,450.00 and N113,700,000.00 from sales of e-registration pins.
Following Professor Ishaq Oloyede’s appointment as Registrar/Chief Executive of the body in August 2016, as part of its transparency and accountability goals, the board has been making returns in billions into the federation account.
In 2019, the board generated N5 billion from the conduct of UTME but remitted N3 billion to the coffers of the federal government after the government asked the board to invest N2 billion to enhance its operations.
Its highest remittance so far was in 2018 when it remitted N7.8 billion revenue generated from the conduct of 2018 UTME to the coffers of the federal government.
Oyeleye Unveils Every Beginner’s Chess Book with 215 Puzzles
By Dipo Olowookere
A book aimed to deepen the understanding of chess among youngsters and professionals has been launched by an International Chess Federation (FIDE) licensed Chess in School Instructor, Mr Olawale Oyeleye.
The book titled Every Beginner’s Chess Book with 215 Puzzles was unveiled at a virtual event recently to chess players, organisers, arbiters, coaches and corporate Nigerian.
The author of the book said at the unveiling that he was inspired to write the book when he noticed that young chess players in Nigeria and Africa lacked materials to learn more about the board game.
According to him, he nursed the idea for nine years before coming up with Every Beginner’s Chess Book with 215 Puzzles, expressing confidence that the book will benefit the readers because of the extensive research he did.
“I took time to research on the essentials of what is needed for beginners and today, we have a book which is full of illustrations to make the teaching of chess in schools and in clubs easy for youngsters,” he said.
Also speaking at the launch, the Director of TheJohnFawole Award and Bruvchessmedia, Fawole John Oyeyemi, commended the author for the piece, recommending its adoption as teaching material in schools.
“Chess books written by Nigerian authors are few. Mr Oyeleye has given us a book that speaks to the basics of the board game.
“You have done something great in the chess world. This book should be adopted by schools for their chess learning programmes.
With this book, Mr Oyeleye had moved chess a step further and it would also become a popular board game in Nigeria,” he said.
On her part, the ex-president of the Chess Players Association of Nigeria (CPAN), Ms Ayokanmi Ajayi, praised Mr Oyeleye for his immense contribution to the game in Nigeria, saying, “You have pushed forward the frontiers of chess with the text. This is a proper chess book to educate the Nigerian child. It is affordable and easy to understand.”
A member of the FIDE Athlete Commission and Chairman of ACC Players Commission, International Master Odion Aikhoje, commended the author for putting together a laudable book on chess.
He said the positive mindset of the author motivated him to see the project through despite the trying times that we are in as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The book is dedicated to explaining the game of chess and talking about the benefits of chess. Previously encountered chess books are technical books but the extra illustration by the author can make one know more about the game.
The book helps to visualize and calculate the moves on the board and this piece of work will help develop players. A properly presented book will aid the learning of the game,” he stated.
The President of Togo Chess Federation and former secretary to FIDE, Enyonam Noel Fumey, said the book is a marvel and he wishes that all Nigerian educational authors will use it as an introduction to the game.
He charged the writer of the book to ensure that the work is translated into French so that Francophone-speaking countries can also benefit from it.
Mr Oyeleye, who is married to Mrs Caroline Adedoyin, is also the author of Levels 1-6 Chess Workbooks powered by Pedachess Educational Services Ltd.
He is an Accountant, National Arbiter, Tournament Director, Chess Trainer, Journalist, Public Relation Officer for CPAN since 2017 till date.
He was awarded the Arbiter of the year in 2016, 2017, and 2018 respectively, and awarded the Tournament Director of the year 2018.
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