Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government, on Thursday, said the sum of N140 billion out of the N500 billion budgeted for its Social Investment Programme (SIP) in 2017 has been released.
It also said for 2016, only N80 billion of the budgeted N500 billion, was released bringing total sum released to N220 billion out of N1 trillion within the period for the implementation of the four major components of the programme.
The programmes include, N-Power, National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), National Cash Transfer Project (NCTP), and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).
This was even as it said that School Feeding Programme alone gulps N13 billion monthly to feed approximately 8.6 million pupils (8.596,340) in 46,247 public primary schools in all 24 states currently on the programme.
The 24 states that have so far been covered by the NHGSFP include Abia, Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Niger, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba and Zamfara.
These were disclosed at the Media Roundtable on the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme by presidential aide on National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP), Mrs. Mariam Uwais.
The National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme is one of the four Social Investment Programmes of the Muhammadu Buhari administration which seeks to provide one nutritious meal a day to pupils in primary 1-3 in public primary schools in all states in Nigeria.
Uwais explained that the Federal Government has expended N49 billion on feeding of pupils in public primary schools across 24 states of the country in the last two years.
According to her, through the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, 90,670 Nigerians have been engaged and empowered as cooks while over 100,000 local farmers have also been linked to the programme to supply locally sourced farm produced.
“We have created a value chain with significant economic benefits to the micro economic development of the states. The value chain offers additional benefits of job creation and increased livelihood outcomes for both cooks and small holder-farmers, hence improving livelihood and the local economies.” She added.
Mrs. Uwais noted that government was having challenges with the implementation of the school feeding programme in Niger and Benue states.
She said already some officials in the programme in Benue and Niger states have been handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the investigation and prosecution.
“The National Social Investment Office is ably empowered to suspend the programme in any state where the prescribed standard is reported to have fallen below expectation until a redesigned and realignment is achieved,” the presidential aide noted.
The objective of National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme is to provide one nutritious, balanced meal each school day to 5.5 million pupils in classes to One to Three in the public primary schools across the a country.
Government says that it has achieved 30percent improvement in school enrollment in the country since the commencement of the programme.