Another Buhari’s promise under threat: States complain of the lack of funds

– Homegrown school feeding program for primary
school pupils across Nigeria is facing difficulties in
many states across the nation
– Many state governments are struggling to pay
salaries have no funds to launch the program
– For others, feeding ‘is not a priority’
Homegrown school feeding program was launched in Abuja
on June 9, 2016. The initiative is a part of President Buhari’s
strategy on recovering the education sector and a part of
the 2016 budget implementation plan. Nevertheless, the
start is not really smooth so far.
An investigation by Saturday PUNCH reveals why the
program may suffer a setback: the state governments say
they cannot share financial responsibility with the federal
Facts about school meal initiative:
1. Funds: 60% provided by the federal government, 40% –
by the state governments.
2. Beneficiaries: 5.5 million primary school students in 18
states in the first phase. The figure is expected to reach 24
million in four years.
3. Duration: 2016-2020.
4. N93.1 billion is appropriated for the first phase of the
Bauchi state
The programme was not a priority for the state
government, Alh. Yakubu Ibn Mohammed, the special
adviser on media and Communication to the Bauchi State
Governor, said.
“The whole educational system in the state has been left to
rot. The priority of this administration is to restore
educational infrastructure in the state. When this is done,
incentives to get pupils to school like the school feeding
programme, will then be given due and necessary
attention,” he added.
Bayelsa state
Markson Fefegha, the state’s commissioner for education:
“The states that can implement the policy will do so, but I
have not got the directive yet to speak on that matter.”
Cross River state
Goddy Etta, the state commissioner for education: “If we
can get a commercial bank to bankroll our 40%, we will
start. If the money comes, we will empower the farmers
who will supply us with the food stuff. Farmers will farm
and we will buy from them.”
Ekiti state
Lanre Ogunsuyi, the state commissioner for information,
youths and sports development: “President Muhammadu
Buhari should be held responsible for failing on its
campaign promises and that states should not bear the
burden of failed promises.”
“We have our own stomach infrastructure programme, so,
the federal government cannot force its own plan on us,” he
Kaduna state
Governor El-Rufai confirmed the Kaduna state government
feeds 1.5 million pupils every day. He noted that the
scheme increased in primary schools’ enrolment by 64%.
Ondo state
Kayode Akinmade, the state commissioner for information:
“It is not in the PDP government’s manifesto to provide free
meals for the primary school children; our own programme
is to provide quality and affordable education for our
school children.”
Osun state
Sunday Akere, the consultant on information to the Osun
state Governor Rauf Aregbesola: “This administration has
been feeding pupils in elementary schools since inception.
We provide free meal for all pupils from class one to class
four. I don’t think the administration has any plan to feed
those in middle schools. But if the Federal Government
takes over the feeding of pupils in elementary schools then
it will free more money to be used for development
Oyo state
Yomi Layinka, a special adviser to Governor Abiola Ajimobi
on communication and strategy: “The state
government would respect the president’s proposal and go
along with feeding pupils in primary 4 to 6 in the state.”
Plateau state
Samuel Nanle, the director of press affairs to Governor
Lalong: “The governor has said the state is willing to
support the scheme but given the present financial
predicaments, it cannot. The state is however working on a
modality to see how it can stimulate school enrolment and
primary education in the state.”