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The lockdown and school feeding program: succoring or defalcating

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The lockdown and school feeding program: succoring or defalcating - IMG 00041 300x169 - The lockdown and school feeding program: succoring or defalcating

The federal government of Nigeria had announced that the Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP) for primary school pupils will resume during this lockdown and closure of schools.

Recall, it had earlier announced the closure of all schools in the country, from primary to tertiary institutions through the Ministry of Education, and has no timeline for reopening them due to the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus.

Unfortunately, the action of the government to continue with the school feeding program while the children are at home is directly or indirectly aiding corruption and seen as an act of defalcating rather than succoring and remember that part of the agenda of this current administration is focused on the fight against corruption, tagged buhari’s anti-corruption agenda.

According to the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umaruq, the resumption was based on a presidential directive, which called Take-Home Ration (THR), with the items valued N4,200 comprises of 5kg Bag of Rice, 5kg Bag of Beans, 500ml Vegetable Oil, 750ml Palm Oil, 500mg Salt, 15pcs of eggs, 140gm Tomato Paste.

In her wordings, the program is a means of supporting children to continue to have access to nutrient-rich foods despite disruptions to the traditional channels of school feeding by the pandemic and serves has succor from the government to the pupils.

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The HGSF program, when initially launched as part of a 500 billion Naira funded Social Investment Programme announced by the buhari administration to tackle poverty and improve the health and education of children and other vulnerable groups, by increasing school enrolment and completion, due to the fact that Nigeria is currently rated 30% of primary school dropout.

It also aims to support states to collectively feed over 24 million school children which will make it the largest school feeding program of its kind in Africa.

Any right-thinking person will be as disturbed as I am, that these aims can’t be achieved in the pandemic and lockdown of all things, where the targeted pupils are in their respective homes and needed to stay safe and maintain social distancing.

Or have we forgotten how the earlier materials (foodstuffs) and cash transfer beneficiaries claimed to have been distributed by the federal government have been defalcated by some people?

It is not surprising that the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) had asked the federal government, to publish details of the suppliers and contractors, the procurement rules, including bidding processes, the total budget, and all designated voucher distribution and collection sites for the implementation of the school feeding program at home.

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SERAP equally demands information on the number of states, the projected spending per state, details of the mechanisms and logistics that have been put in place to carry out the program, as well as the role expected to be played by the World Food Programme.

The agency made the request under the Freedom of Information Act. A law that tends to promote and ensure social justice, good governance, transparency, and accountability.

I keep wondering whether the federal government will claim to have the full data of homes and resident of all the primary school pupils that will benefit from the program. This is crystal clear that it a move to directly or indirectly aid corruption and hides under the homegrown school feeding program.

Obviously, it is not an exaggeration to say that majority of schools have no data on their students, how will they locate there respective homes and residents, if not the administration is planning to use it as a means of achieving their egalitarian interest and defalcate the public fund rather than providing the succor claimed.

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