Between NERDC and its mandate

Recently, the chief executive of Nigeria Education Research and Development Council (NERDC), Professor Godswill Obioma, while welcoming members of the House Committee on Education who were on oversight visit to his office, lamented the inability of the agency to effectively carry out its core mandate due to paucity of funds. AUGUSTINE OKEZIE examines the release and management of fund at NERDC

Lamenting on the inability of NERDC to meet up with the execution of its core mandate following poor releases of budgeted funds, Professor Obioma expressed fear that laudable projects like the implementation of the 9- year Basic Education Curriculum nationwide expected to commence in September, 2014might be jeopardized
He admitted though that the Council has printed and distributed the 9- year Basic Education Curriculum for Primaries 1-3 and Junior Secondary School 1-3 nationwide, but are yet to print and distribute the curriculum for Primaries 4-6.
He said ’’the sum of two hundred and seventy million naira (N 270,000,000.00) was initially admitted by MDGs office for this purpose. However, the committee on MDG in the National Assembly reduced the amount to Thirty million naira (N 30,000,000.00) which cannot print and distribute the curriculum’’.
Other prominent activities that may surfer the inadequacy of fund to the Council include the launching of the new curriculum, sensitization of schools and the proposed teacher training and capacity building workshops on the use of the curriculum.
‘’Inadequacy of funds to print and distribute the curriculum nationwide will adversely affect the school system as the old curriculum is overloaded and must be phased out in 2014. This will not go well in the Education Sector’’.
Obioma’s lamentation to the visiting parliamentarians also touched the lack of budgetary provision for research and curriculum, with only a paltry provision for sundry items like corp. member kitting, transport and feeding allowances and so on.

Capital Projects
The NERDC boss complained about the inability of the council to embark on capital projects after for capital projects after due processes have been carried out due to lack of funds to implement them.
He further cited the completion of the educational research and development virtue library at Sheda, now awaiting the furnishing. ‘’The sum of fifty million naira (50,000,000.00) was initially admitted but later reduced to thirty million naira (N 30,000,000.00) which is inadequate to furnish the library connect electricity to the block with 500 KVA transformers, and provide drainage for the block.
Epileptic Power supply to the council coupled with the dwindling level of security caused by its remote location were not overlooked in Obioma’s list of complains. He pleaded with the national Assembly to come to the aid of the council management as according to him, they are currently trapped with no funds to implement the agency’s core mandates, maintain facilities and carry out our daily operations.

Committee response
The committee on education while responding to the lamentations criticised the council’s penchant to returning unspent funds to the treasury, which according to them is a clear indication that they were being pampered with funds and does not deserve any sympathy for increased allocations.
They committee further counseled the agency to redeploy such funds to other needed areas rather than retiring them to treasury.
There is the urgent need to remove some of the major problems of educational development in Nigeria, especially by adequately empowering the NERDC to enable it fulfill its mandate. The issue of responsibility and control must be resolved and a uniform system of education introduced and operated nation-wide.
The federal and state governments should endeavor to collaborate on the development of Nigeria’s Education.