36 Governors Dragged to Court over Counterpart Funds

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CEM REPORT | Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued the 36 state governors of the federation over failure to pay basic education counterpart funds.

SERAP alleges that the funds worth N51.6 billion earmarked by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) for basic education in the country would facilitate access to quality basic education in the various states for poor children.

In suit number FHC/L/CS/1120/2022 filed by SERAP lawyers; Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi. before a Federal High Court in Lagos, which listing UBEC and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, SERAP is seeking:

“an order of mandamus to direct and compel the 36 state governors to pay the counterpart funds that would allow poor Nigerian children to enjoy access to quality basic education in their respective states.”

“an order of mandamus to direct and compel the 36 state governors to put in place mechanisms for transparency and accountability in the spending of any accessed matching grants from UBEC.”

According to SERAP, “the report by UBEC states that several states have failed to access N51.6 billion of matching grants suggests that these states are doing very little for poor children. It also explains why the number of out-of-school children in the country has continued to rise. The number is currently over 13 million,”

Furthermore the organisation claims that over N40 billion has been reportedly paid to 47 former governors from 21 of the 36 states in pensions and provision of houses, staff and motor vehicles replaceable between three and four years indicating that the states negligence to poor children.

“state governors are paying former governors in their states billions of naira in life pensions and other retirement benefits while failing to invest in education and pay funds that would allow poor Nigerian children within their states to enjoy access to quality education.”

“Paying the counterpart funds for basic education in several states would be a major step forward for children’s rights, and ensure the rights and well-being of all children, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds.”

SERAP called on the state Governor to prioritize  paying their counterpart funds while recalling the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report that one in 3 children do not complete primary school in several states, with 27.2 per cent of children between 6 and 11 years not attending school as only 35.6 per cent of children aged 3–5 months attend pre-school.

The organisation further state that the present state of basic education in the country goes against the Section 18 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended.

“states should prioritise paying their counterpart funds over and above spending on life pensions and other misallocations of scarce resources,”

“Basic education in several states has continued to experience a steady decline. The quality of education offered is low and standards have continued to drop.

“The learning environment does not promote effective learning. School facilities are in a state of extreme disrepair, requiring major rehabilitation. Basic teaching and learning resources are generally not available, leaving many teachers profoundly demoralized.

“This situation is patently contrary to Section 18 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 [as amended]; and Sections 2(1) and 11(2) of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing.

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