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 immediately
– 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
government.
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 scheme.
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 added.
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 projects.”
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.”

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