School feeding: FG fails to meet September take- off target

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Olalekan Adetayo, Kamarudeen Ogundele, Success
Nwogu, Olaide Oyelude and Armstrong Bakam

The Federal Government failed to commence its
free National Home Grown School Feeding
programme at the beginning of the current
academic session in September as promised.

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the sharp reduction in
government revenue prevented the Federal
Government from meeting with the target date.
The programme, which was formally inaugurated
on June 9, 2016 by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo,
is part of the Social Investment Plans of the
present administration for which N500bn has been
budgeted in the 2016 Budget.

The Federal Government, through the national
manager of the programme, Mrs. Abimbola
Adesanmi, had in July said it would commence the
scheme in September when schools resumed, with
5.5 million pupils across the country.
The promise was that the programme would
benefit 5.5 million pupils in the first year of its
operation, while Adesanmi had explained that the
Federal Government had resolved to start the
programme with pupils from Primary 1 to 3 at the
beginning, and then move to other classes later.
However, the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-
President, Mr. Laolu Akande, blamed the drop in oil
prices and oil pipelines vandalism by the Niger
Delta militants for the delay in the commencement
of the programme as planned.
An office headed by the Special Adviser to the
President on Social Protection Plan, Mrs. Maryam
Uwais, created for the purpose of implementing the
plan which formed a major part of the All
Progressives Congress’ campaign promises ahead
of the 2015 presidential election is in the Office of
the Vice-President.
Akande also cited the need to ensure that the
beneficiary states were ready as part of the factors
responsible for the delay.
He, however, assured all stakeholders that despite
the setbacks, the scheme would soon kick off.
He said, “We had to first ensure there is
operational readiness in the states where the
programme will start. That took some of the time.
“The other reason for the delay had to do with the
general drop in revenues occasioned by the drop in
oil earnings.
“The economic sabotage and attacks on oil and
gas installations in the Niger Delta is also a factor,
which at some point, meant Nigeria was losing one
million barrels per day of the 2.2mpd that had
been estimated in the budget.
“But the good news is that the programme, which
has been budgeted for, will take off very soon.
Please note that the programme has kicked off in
Kaduna State for months now and for years in
Osun State.
“The steering committee, set up for social
investments with presidential oversight, has
recently made provision for the programme to kick
off very soon.”
When told of a recent statement by the Minister of
Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, that N60bn had been
released for the programme, Akande said the sum
was meant for all the components of the social
investment plan, and not for the feeding
programme alone.
He described the money as the first tranche of
funds, saying more releases would follow.
He explained that the money would go straight to
the service providers, the cooks, through banks.
On the beneficiaries, Akande confirmed that all
pupils in Primary 1-3 in public schools in the first
set would benefit.
Apart from Osun and Kaduna where their state
governments are already implementing the feeding
programme, he listed other states in the first set to
include: Borno, Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra, Ogun,
Akwa Ibom, Sokoto, Zamfara and Oyo.
He said as the government goes ahead with the
scheme and once state governments show
readiness, more of them would join the
programme.
According to an overview of the scheme presented
at its inauguration in June, the plan runs till 2020
and forms the cornerstone of the nationwide Home
Grown School Feeding programme, which when
fully realised, would provide a meal a day to over
24 million primary school children.
“Not only will the Home Grown School Feeding
programme help our pupils become better
students, it will also boost the local economies,
and create new jobs along the way,” Osinbajo had
said at the inauguration.
the reduction
in Federal Government’s revenue caused by the
sharp drop in global oil price was threatening the
full implementation of President Muhammadu
Buhari’s planned social protection programme.
Other schemes under the social protection plan
include the Micro-Credit Scheme, Teach Nigeria
Scheme, the Youth Employment Agency,
Conditional Cash Transfer, and Free Education
Scheme for Science Students.
Meanwhile, some parents from across the country
have criticised the Federal Government and
expressed disappointments that it failed to
commence the programme in September as
promised.
The parents, all of whom have children in public
schools, said they were hoping that their children
would benefit from the programme.
A parent in Katsina State, Mallam Nasir Manir, said,
“The programme was to commence last month and
the government has not told us the reason for the
delay. I pray it does not end up being another
campaign gimmick.”
A parent, who identified himself as Kazeem, said
he was disappointed that the Federal Government
failed to keep its promise to feed school pupils.
He said, “The government promised us and we
were hopeful, but it has not done it. I feel it is very
bad for a government to take the people for a ride
because we had trust in it, but it is failing us.”
A social commentator in Ekiti State, Mr. Ayo
Adegbuyi, also slammed the Federal Government
for not keeping to the promise, saying it should
apologise to parents.
In Kwara State, Mallam Aliyu Balogun, who has
four children in primary schools, doubted the
sincerity of the promise when it was made by the
APC, adding that the government’s failure to
commence the programme in September as
promised showed that he was right.
Another parent, Mrs. Joy Omosebi, called on the
government to fulfil the promise “by all means.”
But the Kwara State Chairman, Nigeria Union of
Teachers, Musa Abubakar, had during his speech
on World Teachers’ Day in Ilorin, said that the
school feeding programme of the Federal
Government would be a “colossal waste” if not
properly harnessed.

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