Senate yesterday queried over N10billion increment noticed in the 2016 budget proposal by the Federal Ministry of Education which it considered abnormal.
The upper legislative chamber, which pointed out the discovery during budget defence by the ministry and its agencies in Abuja, questioned how the budget for parastatals under the ministry was hiked from N88.199 billion in 2015 to N98.18 billion in 2016 document.
Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Olusola Adeyeye (APC Osun Central), who is a member of the Committee on Education (Basic and Secondary Education), which queried the ministry, had pointed out that in 2015, personnel cost of parastatals in the ministry amounted to N88,119,758 and increased to N98,181,570,237 in this year’s budget document.
Adeyeye, a professor and chairman of the committee during the 7th Senate, expressed surprise at the increment for parastatals while personnel proposals of institutions like Unity Schools and Universities were reduced.
According to him, this was the only sub-head which allocation was so increased, a development he disclosed has become suspicious.
Shocked by the revelation, Chairman of the Committee and former Governor of Sokoto State, Senator Aliyu Wamakko requested answer from the Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwuka who represented the minister, Malam Adamu Adamu.
But Anwuka tactically claimed ignorance of the situation, claiming that he was not part of the preparation of the budget document and requested the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs. Folasade Yemi-Esan to answer.
Wamakko expressed displeasure at a situation where schools were losing while parastatals were gaining and therefore directed the ministry to return at a later date to give a better explanation on why parastatals were given priority over schools.
“We will give you time to get us detailed answer because I am not comfortable with the answer given. Find time and give us detailed information about this. This must be addressed carefully,’’ he said.
The chairman said the committee would not rest on its oars in ensuring that the education sector, particularly the institutions met global education standard.
He expressed the senate’s readiness to ensure early release of funds to all the sectors to enable them implement the various projects itemized in the proposal.
In her explanation, the Permanent Secretary, said the figures presented by the ministry were submitted by the various parastatals and institutions in the ministry.
Yemi-Esan further explained that the variance in the proposals depended on the number of people enrolled in Personnel and Payment Information System, IPPIS.
“The variance depends on the number of people that still exist in IPPIS. So it is an automatic thing that as people retire, automatically the balance comes down. So if they are not replaced by new staff then we have this variance, it is not that we lost some money.
“This is an aggregate of all the parastatals, we will check to know which one has the increase or if there is marginal increase across board because what we have done is to put together all the parastatals.
“Having said that, this was not imposed on the different universities and the polytechnics. They were the ones that submitted their personnel cost, so it is not an imposition.
“It is what they submit we collate. There is no loss of money here,’’ she said.
In his remarks, the Minister of State for Education, said the 2015 budget was fairly good considering the fact 50 per cent of the year’s capital allocation was released.
Anwuka noted that a total sum of N483, 666, 376, 985 was proposed for the entire education sector in 2016 as against N483, 183,784,654 appropriated in 2015.
He however lamented that the increase may not have any significant effect on the challenges facing the sector.
The minister of state added that the sector was plagued with challenges ranging from late release of funds to late implementation of projects.
He said that the ministry’s goal was to transform the education sector by developing individuals into morally and academically sound, effective and skilled citizens.
Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, NUC, Prof. Julius Okojie said the commission actually lost over N100million.
“We had N1.6 million last year and this year we have N1.5 million and I must tell you the issue of regulation for all you know, in the past 10 years, number of universities have doubled and with new universities coming on board and it has almost become impossible to do accreditation.
“Whether it is personnel cost or capital cost, we don’t even have anything capital. Last year, we had only N70million and out of 140 million. N70 million was released in the recurrent; usually you get about 90 per cent of personnel cost, overhead was also a problem in running the system”, he said.


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