The federal and state governments will spend less than 9 percent of their total budgets of N12.2 trillion on education this year, despite their publicised commitment towards the sector.
Daily Trust analysis of the combined expenditure of the federal and 33 state governments show that they will spend N1.03 trillion (8.44 percent) on education this year.
This amount will mainly be spent on bureaucracies of education ministries, teachers' recruitment and salaries.
Of its N6.1 trillion budget, the federal government is spending N367.73 billion (6.01 percent) on education.
The 33 states will spend N653.53 billion (10.70percent) of their total budget of N6.1trillion.
This figure is far below the 26 percent bench mark set by UNESCO on education for developing countries.
The federal and 36 state governments will spend over N5.33 trillion (43.7 percent) on payment of salaries and other costs of running their bureaucracies this year, according to a Daily Trust analysis of their approved budgets.
This is coming at a time of concerns over the swollen recurrent expenditures in the face of dwindling oil revenues and low votes for development projects.
The total amount earmarked for capital projects by the central and the state governments this year is N5.04 trillion (41.3 percent); N3.3 trillion for the states and N1.75 trillion for the federal government.
The total budget carries a combined deficit of N4.5 trillion (36.9 percent), which is made up of N2.3 trillion for the states and N2.2 trillion for the federal government.
The federal government's budget of N6.06 trillion has recurrent expenditure component of N2.65 trillion (44 percent) and N1.75 trillion (29 percent) for capital projects. The remaining balance of N1.66 trillion (27 percent) was for debt servicing and statutory transfers.
The 19 northern states are spending N361.13 billion out of their total budget of NN2.5 trillion on education. The education spending by the 14 southern states for the year is N292. 4 billion out of N3.5 trillion they budgeted for the year.
The poor spending on education means Nigeria will have more adult illiterates, poor education quality, low GDP growth and poor achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 which Nigeria is a signatory, the Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All (CSACEFA) policy advisor Ms Chioma Osuji said.
On his part, the executive secretary of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said this shows clearly that the country hasn't yet recognised education as a veritable key to development and economic empowerment.
Small votes, poor outcome
The UIS-UNESCO data estimates 8.7 million primary children are out of school in Nigeria, a 2015 report on "Financing education in Nigeria: Opportunities for action," sponsored by the Norwegian government for the Oslo Summit on Education for Development, said.
The study which reviews the state of education and education financing in Nigeria, says despite many years of effort, the education system in Nigeria remains weak, especially in the north, although the poor quality of statistical data hampers a clear analysis of the numbers.
The report said Nigeria has recorded some progress in school enrolment recently. Despite this progress, however, Nigeria has the highest population of out of school children in the world, the study revealed.
The estimated primary school aged population is 30 million, including 14.5 million girls (34 percent of which are out of school) and 15.1 million boys (29 percent of which are out of school), according to the report.
The report cited lack of clear delineation of intergovernmental roles as a major obstacle to progress.
"While officially mandated to oversee primary education, state governments (SGs) fail to allocate resources for this purpose, relying instead on local governments' (LGs) funds," the report said.
Recurrent capital expenditure imbalances in budgetary allocations aggravate the challenges and stifle the provision of education infrastructure, the study said.
The southwest zone's spending on education for the year (minus Ondo state) is N178.41 billion (12.71 percent) of its N1.4 trillion total expenditure.
It is followed by the northwest zone which earmarked N174.28 billion (15.53 percent) of its total budget of N1.12 trillion for education.
Only N85 billion (12.57 percent) of the northeast's total budget of N676 billion is allocated to education.
This region has been ravaged by Boko Haram insurgency which has been campaigning against western education by abducting and murdering students.
The north central zone's approved budget for education is N101.71 billion (14.86 percent) of its cumulative budget of N684 billion.
The south-south region has a total budget for education of N100.99 billion (6.25 percent) of its N1.6 trillion total budget.
The southeast's states of Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi have earmarked only N13 billion for education. There are no figures for Abia and Imo states. The zone has a combined budget of N490 billion.
Lagos is the only state in the country with three-digit budget on education. It's spending N113.37 billion of its budget on education.
Its expenditure is higher than the regional education budgets of the northeast, north-central, south-south, and southeast.
Other big spenders after Lagos are Cross River (N53.01billion), Jigawa (N43.5 billion), Ogun (N40.1 billion), Sokoto (N34.5 billion), Kaduna (N29.99 billion), Borno (N27 billion), Bauchi (N26.7 billion), Kano (N23.65 billion) and Katsina (N20.68 billion).
States with less expenditure for education are: Ekiti (N1.5 billion), Kogi (N2.36 billion), Anambra (N3 billion), Taraba (N3.4 billion), Enugu and Bayelsa (N4 billion each), Niger (N4.29 billion), Ebonyi (N6 billion), Gombe (N6.2 billion), and Zamfara (N6.96 billion).
Too little to make impact
The CSACEFA advisor said the poor spending on education has adversely affected the education sector in various ways.
"First of all, the budget line did not clearly look at addressing the issues presently affecting the education sector such as education in emergency, high dropout/ out of school children, girls education etc," she said.
"What this means is that even though the budget both at the national and state level falls below the recommended benchmark, it fails to take into consideration the issues affecting education at those levels. The budget items did not state, neither did it try to match government promises with actions.
"Nevertheless, the poor budgetary allocation means that the current challenges of education such as inadequate qualified teachers, inadequate infrastructure and learning materials and poor learning outcomes among pupils etc in the education sector will not be tackled," she said.
Rafsanjani said the country can only harness its numerous potentials by voting enough funds to amend its dilapidating educational structure as well as improving capacities of its teachers and researchers.
He said only through provision of quality education that the teeming population of the country can drive itself out of poverty, and match towards economic empowerment, growth and development.