President Muhammadu Buhari has commenced the much-awaited school feeding programme for Nigerian pupils.
The programme commenced in Anambra state according to a statement from Laolu Akande, the spokesperson for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Akande said the home-grown programme started on Thursday, December 8, 2016.
“Meanwhile, no one should have to pay any fees to benefit in the homegrown school feeding programmes, and any such imposition or request for fees is uncalled for and illegal.
“Reports of such acts of extortion in some states where beneficiaries are being asked to pay a ‘fee for registration’ have reached the presidency, and firm instructions have been given that such acts should stop,” Akande said.
The statement also said Dotun Adebayo, the special asistant on homegrown school feeding programme in the office of the vice president, was in Awka, the Anambra state capital where he noted that primary school pupils showed excitement.
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The statement said Adebayo led a team of federal and state officials to some of the schools including the Community Primary School, Awka South, Central School Ameobi, and Central School in Nibo.
Adebayo was quoted as saying the pupils were excited and enjoyed the meals from the cooks in the three schools.
“All together in Anambra State, an estimated 76, 690 pupils in 1050 schools would be served every day of school. The feeding programme caters to pupils from primary 1-3.
“Having met the stated requirements for federal government funding for the homegrown school feeding, a sum of N53,687,900 had been released directly to cooks for the kick-off of the school feeding programme in Anambra, to last till the end of the current school term.
“All the cooks were recruited from communities around the primary schools for the program, verified and trained to provide the catering service in the 21 local government areas in the state.
“Generally, the Homegrown School Feeding programme, which is one of the social investment plans of the Buhari presidency, is driven through community participation where residents in the community are engaged as cooks to provide feeding services. Also the programme leverages on the agricultural produce available within the communities.
“The Homegrown School Feeding programme of the Buhari administration will not only boost school enrollment and improve the nutritional status of the pupils, it would also stimulate local farming, while equally creating jobs including the 774 cooks now in gainful employment in Anambra state.
“While the 2016 budget of change made provision for funding of the feeding programme in 18 states, a total of 17 States have concluded the designing of the School feeding models through state-level multi-sectorial capacity building workshops, based on FG’s stipulated requirements. Those states will proceed in the planning and would soon get to the implementation stage,” the statement said.
The statement listed the 17 states as Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Enugu, Sokoto, Kaduna, Borno, Zamfara, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Delta, Abia and Bauchi.
It added that the figures from 15 of these states show that over 3.4 million pupi;ls would be taken care of.