How we spent N500m on school feeding programme during lockdown – Minister

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File Photo: Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (MHADMSD), Sadiya Farouq with some pupils.
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The President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government Monday said it expended about N523.3 million on school feeding programme during the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)-induced lockdown.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (MHADMSD), Sadiya Farouq, while speaking at the Presidential Taskforce briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja.

Explaining that ‘Take Home Rations’ under the modified Home Grown School Feeding programme was not a sole initiative of MHADMSD, the minister said each ration was valued at N4,200 and that the figure was arrived at after proper consultation.

Farouq noted that the figure was generated from statistics provided by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN).

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“According to statistics from NBS and CBN, a typical household in Nigeria has 5.6 to six members in its household, with three to four dependents.

“So, each household is assumed to have three children.

“Based on the original design of the Home Grown School Feeding programme, long before it was domiciled in the ministry, every child on the programme receives a meal a day.

“The meal costs N70 per child.

“When you take 20 school days per month, it means a child eats food worth N1,400 per month.

“Three children would then eat food worth N4,200 per month and that was how we arrived at the cost of the ‘take-home ration.’

“The agreement was that the federal government will provide the funding while the states will implement.

“To ensure transparency in the process, we partnered with the World Food Programme (WFP) as technical partners,” the minister said.

Farouq added that her ministry invited government agencies like Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Department of State Services (DSS) and some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to monitor the process.

“TrackaNG monitored and gave daily updates validating the programme.

“In the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), 29,609 households were impacted, 37,589 households in Lagos and 60,391 in Ogun, making a total of 124,589 households impacted between May 14, and July 6.

“If 124,589 households received take home rations valued at N4,200, the amount will be N523,273,800.”

Establishing the process that led to the creation of take home rations from the Home Grown School Feeding Programme, Farouq said the programme was modified and implemented in three states following a March 29 presidential directive.

The minister said: “It is critical at this juncture to provide details that will help puncture the tissue of lies being peddled in the public space.

“The provision of ‘Take Home Rations’ under the modified Home Grown School Feeding programme, was not a sole initiative of MHADMSD.

“The ministry, in obeying the presidential directive, went into consultations with state governments through the Governor’s Forum, following which it was resolved that ‘take home rations’ remained the most viable option for feeding children during the lockdown.

“So, it was a joint resolution of the ministry and the state governments to give out take home rations.

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“The stakeholders also resolved that we would start with the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states, as pilot cases.”

Farouq also used the occasion to insist that she never said every Nigerian received COVID-19 palliative during the lockdown, saying it’s impossible to give palliative to all Nigerians.

“Every state government received its shares of palliatives for onward distribution. I never said every Nigerian has received COVID-19 palliative. It is impossible to give palliative to all Nigerians,” she said.

Idowu Sowunmi