Chinelo Obogo and Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Nigerian social media users, including lawyer and rights activist, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, have reacted to the claim by Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (MHADMSD), Sadiya Farouq, that the government spent over N523.3 million feeding school children in Lagos, Ogun and FCT during the lockdown.
Farouq had said the programme was modified and implemented following a March 29 Presidential directive that locked down Lagos, Abuja and Ogun in a bid to curb the spread of Coronavirus.
But human rights lawyer, Prof. Odinkalu, tweeted on his social media handle asking :“Somebody pls help me. How many pupils were in school in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun during lockdown? They were feeding home schooled kids through their devices? How does sovereign Hushmummi become the method of “Humanitarian” work?” Another prominent lawyer, Bulama Bukarti, also expressed surprise asking how children who were at home were fed with meals worth N523 million.
“Wow! So the Buhari admin spent over N500m on school feeding, while children were locked down?
“I first thought it might’ve been e-feeding, but then recalled that our connection isn’t great to send rations virtually. Maybe it’s sent by radio. Audio feeding,” Burkarti said.
Another Twitter user that goes by the name Peace_man said: “This is where you have Bsc in feeding/helping the less privileged using the treasury account. @Sadiya_farouq have failed Npower beneficiaries. Some are owed of two to five months. @Sadiya_farouq failed our kids on school feeding. She failed masses on palliatives.
“They’re playing around with our brain especially this @npower_ng. Our friends are being owed their benefits but they have refused to pay them. Maybe they’re trying to hijack the money or they have selfish interest against them.”
Other social media users like Joshua Michael said: “This woman and her team should be probed immediately. Who did you feed? Are they ghost student? How did you feed them when they where not in school. How can you spend N500 million in feeding when schools are not in section? Which state/LG did you feed?”
Yet another user @JohnEzeakolam said: “There was lockdown and schools were closed, therefore where exists the schools where Madam Sadia Farouk aka hush mummy spent N500 million of taxpayer’s cash?”
Parents of some primary schools in Abeokuta metropolis also carpeted the minister for claiming such humongous figure for the project, especially when majority of the pupils did not benefit. .
Over 60,000 pupils were reported to have benefited from the programme, valued at N4,200 per a pupil, between May 14 and July 6, in Ogun State.
Mr. Kazeem Babarinde, whose son is a Primary One pupil at Owiwi Primary School, Obada, Ewekoro Local Government Area, said packages brought to the school could not go round the pupils from primary one to three.
He added that the package given to his child contained a small quantity of uncooked rice, beans, sachets of palm oil and vegetables oil as well as twelve pieces of eggs.
Babarinde said that the packages were distributed only once to the pupils.
Another parent, Waliat Okenla, whose daughter is in primary two, said her daughter never benefited from the programme.
She added that though information was circulated by the school that food packages would be given to pupils, her daughter got nothing.
But Akibu Adeyemi, whose child is in primary one at St. Andrew’s Primary School, Omida, Abeokuta, told Daily Sun that his child got the take home ration, which according to him, was “rich”.
Mrs. Iredara Okeoye, another parent, said she could not fathom how the minister arrived at 60,000 pupils as beneficiaries of the programme, when scores of parents in her child’s school and its environs claimed they were not aware of the take home ration.
She called for probe into how the home feeding programme was run during COVID-19 lockdown, particularly in Ogun State, where 60,000 pupils were claimed to have been given take home rations.