Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
Senate on Monday made a discovery of N10 billion increment in the 2016 Budget for Personnel Costs proposal of parastatals in the education sector as against N88, 199,311,758 appropriated in 2015.
The discovery, which elicited a query from the legislators, followed the 2016 Budget defence before the Senate Committee on Education (Basic and Secondary) at the National Assembly Complex.
Soon, after the presentation by the Minister of State Education, Prof. Anthony Anwuka, the Majority Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, observed that N98, 181,570, 230 was Budget for parastatals in the 2016 Budget proposal, while Personnel Costs proposals of institutions like Unity schools and universities were reduced.
“For Personnel Costs, almost every subsector of the Ministry got quite some money, while the main ministry, colleges of education, polytechnics, universities and so on, except the parastatals that have increase. I want to know why every other person lost money, except parastatals. What is so unique about parastatals?
“If somebody is retired, we hope the person is replaced. If not, the person suffers, unless the person was not doing essential services before; likewise for the ministry and institutions.
“What is so golden about the parastatals that they should gain at the expense of the institutions? Some of us feel that the parastatals are too many, and that the schools are the ones at the heart of education. So, if any body should gain, it should be Unity schools, polytechnic and universities.
“So, if these parastatals are supposed to serve them, and they are the ones that keep growing, and the rest are coming down, we want to know why.
“The parastatals are having N9 billion extra, while other persons are losing. We want to know, we don’t want to punish them; but you must justify it. Right now, I am inclined to say you won’t get that, unless you can justify it.
“The point is by your own figures, parastatals are requesting almost N10 billion more than they got last year. Did they get that quantum lead? We cannot have a situation, where our schools are losing and parastals are the ones gaining,” Adeyeye said.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, expressed displeasure at a situation where schools are losing, while parastatals are gaining.
He 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.
Wammakko 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 itemised in the proposal.
In her response, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mrs. Folasade Yemi-Esan, explained that the figures presented by the Ministry were submitted by the various parastatals and institutions in the Ministry.
She 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.
Earlier, Anwuka said that the 2015 Budget was fairly good, considering the fact that 50 percent of the year’s capital allocation was released.
He 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.
“There are 21 parastatals under the purview of the ministry. Also, there are 104 Federal Government colleges spread across the six geopolitical zones of the country.
“The Ministry has under its supervision, 86 federal tertiary institutions made up of 40 universities, 25 polytechnics and 21 colleges of education,” he said.
The UNION reports that the 2016 Personnel Costs Appropriation for Ministry of Education is N3,523,898,134 as against N3,768, 875,010 appropriated in 2015.
The 2016 Personnel Costs proposal for colleges of education is N37, 645,898,297 as against 2015 appropriation of N40,262,992,834.
The proposal for Universities is N211,025,582,247 as against 2015 appropriation of N227,271, 130, 529.
Meanwhile, unity colleges have a proposal of N18,330,072,487 as against N20,110,247,365 in 2015; while UNESCO Paris has a proposal of N7,588,832 as against 2015 appropriation of N288,738,833.
The UNION reports that the 2016 Budget defence, which commenced on Monday, February 1, would continue till Monday, February 15.