Some Nigerian educational stakeholders such as the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), National Union of Teachers (NUT), Concerned Parents and Educators (CPE), have a stand point of view that Federal Government’s claim to proceed with its homegrown school feeding scheme despite the lockdown of schools in Nigeria resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, may not only be a big failure but will also bore a hole on the government’s slim reserve at a time like this.
During a session with Vanguard, the stakeholders revealed their stand point, expressing their concerns on the reality of this scheme and the strategies that may be deployed to reach out to the pupils in their individual homes considering the frown on large gatherings due to the pandemic.
This is followed by information gathered that the Federal Government claims that in 31 states, Federal Capital Territory Abuja inclusive, the sum of N679 million daily or N13.5 billion monthly is spent on the programme.
From National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS), according to the South-West Coordinator, Comrade Kappo Samuel Olawale, “The plan is not realistic at all. To me, it is a huge prank and a costly one for that matter. How many houses will the food vendors cover since schools are not in session and pupils cannot congregate at a point?
“If they ask the vendors to go and supply the food rations to the pupils at home, it is not that the beneficiaries are living at a spot or a particular place. Even if that is possible, it will increase the cost of logistics.
“Also, if you are asking the pupils to go to a particular place to collect vouchers for the food or even collect the food, there is no doubt the situation will become rowdy and the large gatherings we want to avoid will present themselves, the process would eventually be hijacked by others.
“Why can’t they feed the parents and the parents feed their wards? The other time palliatives were to be given people, the process was badly coordinated. The truth is some people just want to make money for themselves,” Comrade Kappo said.
Lagos State Chairman of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Otunba Adesina Adedoyin, reacting in like manner with the Comrade gaped at the exclusion of private school pupils in the scheme from onset.
“As a teacher, I know that our pupils and students live in different communities. In Lagos, some people live in Ikorodu and run businesses and shops on Lagos Island and, thereby enrol, their wards in schools close to their business premises. How easy will it be to now take food meant for such students to their home addresses?
“The logistics the government would need to implement this would definitely not be Nigerian,” he said.
Founder, Concerned Parents and Educators (CPE), Mrs Yinka Ogunde, speaking from the Parents’ angle, questioned the level of governments readiness in terms of data and statistics of Nigeria pupils.
“I don’t know the level of their preparedness when one talks about logistics as that would inform the workability or otherwise of their plan. The logistics must be well thought-out. We must be careful not to create a bigger problem while trying to solve one,” she opined.
Mr Tolu Ayodele, a lawyer, said “feeding school children that are not in school is a white elephant project aimed at diverting public funds and denying the citizens opportunities of governmental dividends, at least for once since the inception of this administration.
“The policy of feeding children or school pupils at home is just a sham and a smokescreen aimed at deceiving the populace.”
From the Executive Director of Cadrell Advocay Centre, Evans Ufeli, Executive Director, “This government should stop embarrassing Nigeria. They can just keep quiet, the children aren’t complaining and the parents are trying their best. It’s disrespectful and insulting to the children and their parents if government dishonestly continues to keep and hold this conversation.”
Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, had few days ago, been repeatedly mentioning government’s insistence to proceed with the homegrown school feeding programme regardless of schools not in operation.
While dispersing aids to some persons in Karimajiji, Abuja last Saturday, she mentioned it again.
According to her, the project would begin in Lagos, Ogun, FCT and later, Kano, putting in that the food would be taken to the homes of pupils by brokers and that vouchers will be distributed at particular times to prevent large gathering.
Also, she explained that vouchers would be recovered at specific collection points and that beneficiaries of the scheme will amount to 3.1 million households.
“It is in that place where we are going to keep the food rations that we will distribute the vouchers and then they will come to pick up their own ration,” Sadiya Umar Farouk said.
Vanguard reported that In a bid to verify Lagos State’s preparedness, the Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folashade Adefisayo neither picked up her calls nor did she reply the text message sent.
However, findings revealed that the Federal government would spend N70 daily on a meal to reach 9/7 million pupils to 53,715 schools across 31 states in Nigeria before the COVID-19 lockdown commenced.
The calculations amounts to N679 million daily or N13.5 billion monthly with the Federal Government providing 60 per cent of the fund, and the state governments filling up the left space.
Furthermore, the federal government has asked the Department of State DSS (DSS), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) including civil society and non governmental organisations to assist in supervising contractors on the programme set to kick off on Thursday.
Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, had mentioned this yesterday in a press release while adding that over 6,000 schools would be used for distribution centers for community batches with exception of some states with peculiar security and safety matters, where other structures will be used.
The document read: “Each household will receive a take-home ration valued at N4,200 and made up of 5 kg bag of rice, 5 kg bag of beans, 500 ml Vegetable Oil, 750 ml Palm Oil, 500 mg Salt, 15 pcs of eggs, 140gm tomato paste.
“These rations have been reviewed by nutrition experts to ascertain the nutritional value and benefit to the children. The Ministry is also deploying resources to provide oversight for these processes to ensure equity and accountability.”