For the past four years since the Lagos State Government commenced its compulsory Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) for students seeking admission and advancement from junior secondary school to senior secondary school in Lagos State Model Colleges in June 2015, there had not been any distortion to the process.
However, 2019 served parents, teachers and studentss with an unforeseen “wait time” for the exam to hold due to the delayed passage of the Lagos State 2019 budget.
The budget of N852bn was submitted to the State House of Assembly on February 5, 2019, by former governor Akinwunmi Ambode while he prepared to leave office after failing to secure a return ticket to be his party’s candidate in the 2019 Nigeria general elections.
The Lagos State House of Assembly passed it on April 30, 2019.
Prior to this, Lagos State traditionally used to be one of the first Nigerian states to propose, present, pass and sign its budget into law.
For the past two years, the education sector benefits largely from its budgets.
In the 2017 budget worth N813b, the education sector got 24,063,863,941 in capital expenditure and 15,595,689,282 as subvention funds.
The state examinations board N200,000,000 in capital expenditure and N6,867,190 in subvention.
Only the N6,867,190 subvention fund was listed for the examination expenses.
In the 2018 budget worth N1.046 trillion, N24,834,549,176 was earmarked for capital expenditure and N18,279,021,862 for subventions.
The examinations board had subvention fund of N12,000,000 and N180,000,000 for examination expenses.
Unlike the previous years, the submission, passage and signing of the state’s spendings plan was marred by politics.
Already on his way out of the office without a chance of getting a second chance, Governor Ambode was not deemed credible enough to administer the budget which was passed by the assembly on April 30, a month before the beginning of a new regime.
Invariably, the state assembly referred to send the budget to Ambode to sign and was only transmitted to Sanwo-Olu after he was sworn in as the state governor.
That left a very short window for funds to be released to the examination board to prepare for the statewide exams for tens of thousands of students in private and public secondary schools. Hence the exams were postponed and will now start on July 12.
But the permanent secretary, Ministry of Education, Adebunmi Adekanye said that the postponement was necessitated by the inability of many schools and private individuals to adhere strictly to the dictates of the new full e-registration system adopted by the examination board.
“There’s is need to clean up the data with a view to bringing every candidate on board this necessitating the shift,” Adekanye said.
But findings by The Guardian indicates that the delay in the passage of the budget halted the commencement of the exam.
Some officials in the employ of the state’s education ministry, who pleaded anonymity, said there was no way the exam would have commenced when the budget had not been implemented.
“I am one of those officiating the exams for years, and I can categorically tell you that money has not been released for the exam,” Our source, who teaches under Education District II said, “Where do you expect the exam to be funded from ?.”
Also, a principal of a secondary school in Education District IV told our correspondent that she learnt the examinations were postponed because there were no funds yet to bankroll them.
Earlier, the state announced that it has taken care of all the fees payable by the students.
The director, Lagos State Examination Board, Oluwafemi Hassan said the examination was postponed because “a lot of errors were committed while registering the pupils for the exam.”
When asked if the exam had received the required funding from the state, Hassan simply said, “what I know is what I’ve told you. Period.”