• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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FG school feeding program face challenges on 28% fund release

FG school feeding program face challenges on 28% fund release

The National Social Investment Programmes (N-SIP) is facing deep paucity of funds and other sundry challenges which is slowing down the Federal government program.

BusinessDay gathered that only N140b of the budgeted N500b representing 28 % was accessed by the program in 2017 by the National Home- Grown School Feeding Program, a part of the N-SIP.

The program which is currently in 24 states of the Federation with 8.6 million children as beneficiaries, is also said to be faced with several challenges, including shortchanging of school children and diversion of funds.

The Special Adviser to the President, on Social Protection Programmes, Maryam Uwais, said the school feeding program of the federal government received only N80b of the budgeted 500b in 2016, while it got N140b in 2017.

Uwais said the agency is currently spending the sum of N13b monthly to feed the 8.6m school children, engaging a total of 90, 670 as cocks, across the 24 states.

Investments in social protection is considered imperative for correcting social imbalance, enhance economic recovery and sustaining the current economic growth, especially with the huge deficit in the social security gap.

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Uwais who declared that “ We are at the mercy of whatever is given to us” , said the agency was engaging community leaders, the Department of State Security Services ( DSS) and other stakeholders to ensure compliance with quality feeding standards set by the agency.

She disclosed that cases of malpractices were recorded in three states including Benue, Niger and Ebonyi, while one of the cases have been handed over the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, ( EFCC), which has recommended prosecution of the culprit after investigation.

The school feeding program which covers pupils from primaries 1-3 in public schools, currently covers 24 states, with Adamawa and Sokoto billed to join

Uwais who noted that the current financial situation has impacted negatively in the operation of the program, including the delay in implementing an effective monitoring system.

“ We are appealing to all Nigerians to assist us in monitoring the school feeding program as we cannot be everywhere. They can help us to monitor the quality of the food given to these children.

“ We are encouraging the schools to grow their own food and we have also engaged 100,000 local farmers to help grow foods as we have the off takers”

“ One of the critical success factors for the National Home Grown School feeding program is the strong political will of the federal government. The process of funds disbursement for NHGSFP ensures transparency, accountability and track ability.