* ….Minister: We spent N1.338tn on education in four years
The Federal Government on Tuesday said it has approved additional N25 billion payment for Earned Academic Allowances for members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
It was learnt that the money is a part payment contained in the Memorandum of Action the Union signed with the government.
The government said the N25 billion was aside the N20 billion that was released last year to public universities in the country.
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu broke the news at his valedictory press conference as a minister on Tuesday in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Adamu was joined by Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwukah and Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed at the briefing.
The minister said all universities in the country have benefitted from the N20 billion released last year by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government.
He said the Buhari administration inherited an unimplementable agreement of N1.3 trillion when it assumed office in 2015.
Adamu said: “Let me inform you that the federal government has just approved an additional N25 billion to be shared to beneficiary institutions directly. Last year, the federal government released N20 billion directly to universities. As I speak, all universities have got their share of the N20 billion.
“The sad news is that the N200 billion that was released to the Central Bank of Nigeria since 2013 for the universities has not been fully accessed. In specific terms, all the 73 public varsities have accessed the 1st tranche of 50 percent of the N200 billion.
“For the second tranche of 40 percent, only 56 institutions have been able to access their funds. The last 10 percent representing the third tranche of the N200 billion has not been accessed at all.
Adamu, in his Education for Change: Our stewardship in the last four years, address, said the government invested N1.338 trillion on the sector in the last four years.
Adamu said: “In spite of the economic downturn, we have done well in terms of investment in capital expenditure. The UBEC interventions in states have recorded a total of N350 billion, while TETFund and NEED Assessment interventions have recorded N857 billion with the main ministry and other agencies recording N86 billion, totalling N1.338 trillion in the last four years.
“This is aside from the N25 billion just approved for public universities. These figures have nothing to do with personnel and overhead cost in the education sector, which are also well over a trillion naira.
“Private sector investment in the education sector from the basic, secondary and tertiary levels far outweigh government investment. Our aggregate expenditure in the education sector (public and private) therefore exceeds the much touted 20 percent of our national budget. We are poised to do more.
He said the administration has laid a good foundation for dealing with the challenges posed by the out-of-school children phenomenon and the huge number of adult illiterates.
“If we continue on this path, in the next ten years, Nigeria’s challenges in this twin direction I’ll be confined to the dust in of history.
“On basic, secondary and tertiary education, we shall continue on the path of infrastructural and manpower development, increasing carrying capacity and creating unfettered access to all levels of our education for our young people.,” the minister added.
ASUU president. Biodun Ogunyemi, said the N25 billion was supposed to be released by government to its members in March this year as part of the MoA it signed with the union.
He said he could not confirm if members of the union had received the funds or not.
The. ASUU president said the N20 billion that has been fully accessed by its members was for revitalisation of universities in the country.
“I can’t confirm if the money has been released to our members. We still have issues with the money.
“The N25 billion is part of the Earned Academic Allowances for our members. It is a part payment. We have been chasing that money to be released to us. The money was supposed to be released in March 28 this year but the government released only N20 billion leaving a balance of N5 billion.
“The balance is supposed to be mainstreamed into 2019 budget,” he added.