Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has challenged the Federal Government to publish details of the suppliers and contractors, the procurement rules, including bidding processes, the total budget, and all designated voucher distribution and collection sites for the implementation of the school feeding programme at home.
The organisation is also seeking information on the number of states to be covered during the COVID-19 crisis, the projected spending per state, details of the mechanisms and logistics that have been put in place to carry out the programme, as well as the role expected to be played by the World Food Programme.
SERAP made these requests in a Freedom of Information (FoI) request signed by its Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare dated 9 May, 2020.
The FoI request is sequel to claims by the Federal Government that it would continue “feeding school children in their homes” during the COVID-19 crisis, starting Lagos states, and Abuja.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, Ms Sadia Umar-Farouk had last Wednesday announced that the government would start feeding school children in their homes during the COVID-19 crisis, starting from Ogun and Lagos states, and Abuja.
In the FoI request sent to Ms Umar-Farouk, SERAP said publishing the details of the programme is in the public interest and would help “to address public scepticism regarding the ability of the government to satisfactorily implement the programme, promote openness, and allow Nigerians to track its implementation and to hold suppliers and contractors to account.”
The organisation asked the Federal Government to “urgently invite the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to monitor the implementation of the programme.
SERAP asked the Federal Government to provided the information it requested within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of its letter failing which it will take “all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act to compel you to comply with our request.”
The organisation said, “The government has a responsibility to ensure that these requirements and other anti-corruption controls are fully implemented and monitored, and to ensure that the programme benefits the children and families who need it the most.
“Publishing the details of suppliers and contractors and the procurement rules being implemented for executing the school feeding programme at home would also remove the risks of conflicts of interest and politicisation of the programme, as well as promote transparency and accountability.”
“We would be grateful if the requested information is provided to us within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act to compel you to comply with our request.”