Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has said it deployed the highest level of scrutiny in the distribution of palliatives to every Nigerian household that has benefited from the programme in the country.
Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, said this Monday briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 pandemic.
She described as fake news, reports in the media that she said every Nigerian has received COVID-19 palliative; adding that it was impossible to give palliative to all Nigerians as the country does not have the budget.
She said: “The COVID-19 pandemic was an unanticipated emergency and the world was taken completely unawares. Nigeria was no different.
“To tackle the pandemic, different measures were taken and this Presidential Task Force is one of them.
“As a ministry tasked with providing humanitarian interventions, disaster mitigation and social development we quickly set up a Technical Working Group to operationalize the efforts of the ministry and complement the efforts of the PTF.
“The intervention was to help the vulnerable members of our society cushion the economics effect of the pandemic through the provision of social safety nets while building resilience for the future
“In recent days, there have been rumours and innuendos and speculations around one of our key interventions; the Home Grown School Feeding Programme which was modified and implemented in 3 states following a March 29th Presidential directive.
“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 the federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
“The ministry in obeying the Presidential directive went into consultations with state governments through the State Governor’s Forum following which it was resolved that Take Home Rations remained the most viable option for feeding children during the lock down.
“So, it was a joint resolution of the ministry and the state governments to give out Take Home Rations and the stakeholders also resolved that we would start with the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states as pilot cases.
“For a state to take part, it must indicate interest in benefitting from the programme through the signing of an MOU, which details responsibility of the States and the FG. According to the MOU, the States are responsible for the implementation of the program while the FG provides funding.
“Each Take Home Ration is valued at N4,200 and that figure was not arrived at without proper consultation. It was not invented.
“According to statistics from the NBS and CBN, a typical household in Nigeria has 5.6 to 6 members in its household, with 3 to 4 regarded as dependent and so each household is assumed to have 3 children.
“Now 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. 3 children would then eat food worth N4,200 per month. That was how we arrived at the cost of the Take Home Ration.
“The agreement was that the FG will provide the funding while the states would implement and to ensure transparency in the process we partnered with the World Food Programme (WFP) as Technical Partners while we invited the EFCC, CCB, ICPC, DSS and a host of NGOs to monitor the process. TrackaNG monitored and gave daily updates validating the programme.
“I dare say that very few government programmes have witnessed such level of self-imposed scrutiny.
“As we speak, only three states have launched the programme and they remain Lagos, Ogun and the FCT.
“In the FCT 29,609 households were impacted; Lagos recorded 37,589 households while Ogun state was 60,391 households making a total of 124,589 households impacted between May 14, 2020 and July 6, 2020
“If 14,589 households received Take Home Rations valued at N4,200 the total figure will be N523,273,800. And note this was not spent daily. Abuja commenced first, followed by Lagos before Ogun state. It was not DAILY.
“So, kindly disregard the rumours of millions and billions being peddled by rumour mongers.
“The ministry’s mandate is clear; to provide humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable, help with the mitigation of disasters while establishing social safety nets that help us build resilience for the future.
“As the pandemic continues, we remain resolute in the discharge of our mandate and the ministry will not be deterred nor distracted by rumours and innuendos.”