School feeding programme reaches more than seven million children

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

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More than seven million children in primary 1-3 are currently being fed daily in 20 states of Nigeria under the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme, NHGSFP.

Special Adviser to the President on the Social Investment Programmes, Mariam Uwais, stated this while briefing State House correspondents on the activities and achievements of the Social Investment Programmes, SIP, of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Mrs. Uwais, who stated that the programme would begin in two states, Katsina and Gombe, this month, also said 72, 510 cooks have been hired and empowered in the 53, 541 schools being served at present in 20 states.

The states are Anambra, Enugu, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Ebonyi, Zamfara, Delta, Abia and Benue.

Others are Plateau, Bauchi, Taraba, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Imo, Jigawa, Niger and Kano.

She said the target of the programme was to reach provide one meal daily to 5.5 million school children in primary 1-3.

SUCCESS RECORDS

Mrs. Uwais said similar successes have been recorded in the other components of the SIP, including the N-Power; the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, GEEP; and the National Cash Transfer Programme, NCTP.

According to her, 200, 000 graduate beneficiaries of the N-Power were currently enrolled and working in various institutions around Nigeria, while the selection of the next batch of 300,000 beneficiaries, who would be engaged in the next few months, has been completed.

Uwais said 20, 000 more beneficiaries in the non-graduate category were set to commence training in 34 states around the country, while audit of skill centres that could be utilized in the remaining states would continue.

“We set out to provide 500,000 jobs to the unemployed graduates and/or non-graduates,” she stated, adding:“eight technology hubs are in the pipeline, supported by the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, development partners and the academic community.”

The Presidential Adviser said the first batch of pitches for the selected successful applications for the Humanitarian Hub in Adamawa State, North East Nigeria, would be done on Saturday; while the pitches for the Lagos Climate Change Hub would throw open its challenges in March.

Under the GEEP, Mrs. Uwais said 259, 541 beneficiaries of 4,784 cooperatives have been paid in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, while the next batch of 148, 611 loans has been approved fir disbursement.

Households are targeted for cash transfers under the National Cash Transfer Programme, NCTP, 455,857 poor and vulnerable households have been uploaded onto the National Social Register, according to Uwais.

From this number 297, 973 households “have been mined and are being paid stipends in 20 states.”

She said:“credible targeting has been the major concern of the NCTP,” adding “we commenced developing a social register in all the states that have met the criteria provided in the MoU signed with our office.”

Mrs. Uwais said the states where the NCTP has commenced already were Jigawa, Bauchi, Kogi, Osun, Cross River, Anambra, Katsina, Kano, Taraba and Gombe.

Others were Adamawa, Niger, Nassarawa, Benue, Oyo, Ekiti, Kwara, Borno, Kaduna and Plateau.

Mrs Uwais said the SIP has recorded successes in all its components in the almost two years of its establishment.

“What we have achieved thus far is a result of the dedication of an extra ordinary, indefatigable and focused team of staff and the strong support of our top leadership in the persons of the President and Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

We have created a level-playing field for all of our beneficiaries with a selection process that is objective, transparent and efficient,” she said.

Mrs. Uwais called on Nigerians to support the SIP to succeed since the ultimate beneficiaries of the impact of the programme would be the citizens of the country.

Government’s concern

Senior Special Assistant to the President on the Social Investment Programmes, Ismaeel Ahmed, who was also at the briefing, said government’s concern in the implementation of the programmes was not to leverage on it for political purposes but to provide succor to all Nigerians.

He said: “If you are talking about what we can leverage on for political reasons, there are a lot of successes in the SIP.  We are engaging 73, 000 cooks that are growing rural economies, who by cooking, they are buying from farmers.  

We are feeding over 7,000, 000 children and we have reduced the number of out-of-school children in the past two years that we have been implementing the school feeding programme.  We are engaging 200,000 young graduates that are receiving N30,000 a month.”

Mr. Ahmed, however, said President Buhari was more concerned with reducing poverty among Nigerians than in political gains from the Social Investment Programme.

Omolayo.A