By Kazeem Ugbodaga
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved N93 billion to fund the first phase of the home grown school feeding in all public primary schools in the country.
Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity in the Office of the Vice President, Mr. Laolu Akande, disclosed this in a statement that the Buhari presidency has already provided enough funds in the 2016 budget that would ensure that in the first instance, 5.5 million primary school pupils would be served one free hot meal a day.
He added that while states were an active participant in the school feeding plan, their counterpart funding was not required to start the programmer’s implementation.
“Willing states are however being encouraged to complement the programme so it can reach more pupils, but state governments cannot and will not be compelled to do this. However the support of the states is vital whether they are able to provide fund in addition to what the FG will do or not,” he said.
Akande, who was responding to enquiries and requests for clarifications on the issue stated that “the school feeding programme is not a counter-part funding arrangement model. What we have is a plan where the FG provides 100 % feeding costs for pupils in primary one to three in all public primary schools in the country.”
According to him, “let me be clear about this, the Buhari presidency has made adequate arrangements for the scheme to happen and by the grace of God, we are going forward to do exactly that.
“But what is interesting is the fact that some states have actually gone ahead to start the school feeding programme on their own, while some others were also making such a plan. In that case more primary school pupils would be fed in the final analysis.
“If a state is not able to fund the school feeding in Primary 4-6, the FG will not abandon such a state but instead go ahead and feed pupils from Primary 1-3. At least, 5.5 million school children would be fed free of charge for 200 school days in first phase of the home grown school feeding programme starting this year.”
According to him, when the programme was completed, over the course of the elected four year term of the presidency, the number would rise to over 20 million.
“At least, 5.5 million Nigerian primary school children, for instance, starting first in
18 states, three per geopolitical zones-would be fed for 200 school days under the free Home grown School Feeding Programme, as N93.1 billion has been appropriated for this in the 2016 budget,” he said.
The Senior Special Assistant explained further that the programme would create jobs along the value chain and improved family and state economies “because it is a localized menu that is provided for the pupils by the small-holder farmers from within the community who in turn also benefit.”