By Idowu Abdullahi,
The Peoples Democratic Party has alleged that the Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) initiative by the Federal Government was a plot to siphon a targeted N13.5 billion public funds in the guise of giving palliative to the vulnerable Nigerians.
It said the initiative further exposes that the alleged stealing and corruption, in which the party had always frowned and which is deeply ingrained in the DNA of the APC-led administration.
The Federal Government had earlier on Thursday disclosed that the initiative remains part of its measures put in place to mitigate the hardship being faced by vulnerable Nigerians with children of school age following the economic effect occasioned by the coronavirus induced lockdown.
It explained that the initiative which will cater for 3,131,971 households of children in primary 1 to 3 in public schools that will receive uncooked food items valued at N4,200 each, despite the lockdown and closure of schools, was a testament of the government commitments to mitigate the effect of hunger among vulnerable families.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had, during his first broadcast in March, directed the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development to work with relevant state governments in developing a strategy on how to sustain the school feeding program despite the closure of schools.
The move, he said, was part of his administration’s measures to cushion the impact of the novel virus and lockdown on vulnerable households, adding that such initiative would help families stay indoor and maintain social distancing to mitigate the spread of the pandemic.
Acting on the President’s directive, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, Sadia Umar-Farouk, on Thursday, while speaking at the official launch of the modified scheme in Abuja, held at Kuje Central Primary School, said the government in its bid to curb hunger among its populace put up measures such as the home school feeding programme as part of emergency response to the pandemic.
But, the PDP, through a statement by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, shortly after the launch of the initiative in Abuja, described the programme as a scam and racketeering taken too far.
He wondered how the Buhari administration plans to carry out the distribution on the touted basis of the door-to-door distribution of food to children who are claimed to have been individually designated in various locations.
According to him, the minister had failed to provide details of how she intends to reach the 9.7 million school children, who are in their homes in different locations since the closure of schools.
“The school feeding claims by the Federal Government, even when schools are shut due to Covid-19 pandemic, is a huge scam and a scheme by corrupt All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders and some officials in the Buhari Presidency to siphon a targeted N13.5 billion public funds to finance their wasteful lifestyle.
“The party describes the use of innocent school children as cover to steal and funnel not less than N679 million daily to private purses as sacrilegious, wicked, and completely unpardonable.
“While it is clear that the APC-led administration’s school feeding programme had always been a scam, the claims to feed school children even when schools are closed is colossal racketeering taken too far.
“While the PDP has nothing against any transparent effort to provide succor to Nigerians, particularly our children, at this critical time, our party rejects the on-going fraud in which school children, who are in their respective homes, bearing the brunt of the failures of the APC administration, are being used as metaphors to divert public funds to a few corrupt individuals in the Buhari Presidency,” the statement read in parts.