Fred Itua, Ndubuisi Orji and Okwe Obi, Abuja
Federal Government, yesterday, flagged off the modified Homegrown School Feeding Programme in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, adding that Lagos and Ogun states would be the next port of call.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on March 30 ordered closure of schools and other business centres to contain the spread of Coronavirus.
Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, while performing the ceremony, said the Federal Government would continue work with state governments to ensure that the programme benefits over 3.1 million households.
She explained that the programme is being funded by the Federal Government, but maintained that the onus of ensuring its successful implementation rest on the state governments.
“Hunger is a serious by-product of this pandemic crisis, which is why, from the onset, the Ministry has been evolving strategies to facilitate humanitarian interventions. The commencement of the school feeding programme today is based on Mr. President’s directive to the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to liaise with State governments to develop strategies on the continuation of the school feeding programme.
“The ministry in consultation and collaboration with state governments identified the distribution of Take-Home Rations (THR) to the households of the children on the programme as a feasible method of achieving this directive after exploring several options.”
However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in a statement by Kola Ologbondiyan, dismissed it as plan by some officials in the Presidency to fritter away N13.5 billion.
“While the PDP has nothing against any transparent effort to provide succour to Nigerians, particularly our children, at this critical time, our party rejects the ongoing fraud in which school children, who are in their respective homes, bearing the brunt of the failures of the APC administration, are being used as metaphors to divert public funds to a few corrupt individuals in the Buhari Presidency.
“Nigerians are witnesses to how the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Umar Farouq, had always stammered, makes conflicting pronouncements and points to Mr. President’s speech as a cover each time Nigerians demand for details of her humongous spending.”