- Delta state government has been accused of neglecting some riverine communities in the federal government home grown school feeding programme
- The communities are pleading for inclusion in the programme so that their children could benefit from the federal government good gesture to them
- But Delta state government says no part of the state, as far as a human being is there, is neglected
Worried that the federal government school feeding programme is allegedly not reaching primary school pupils in some coastal communities of Delta state, flow station host communities of Nigeria on Thursday made a passionate appeal to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to extend the programme to children in the state riverine communities.
Comrade Sheriff Mulade, speaking on behalf of the communities in the flow station, though commended the programme initiated by the federal government, he said children in some riverine communities are yet to benefit from the laudable project.
NAIJ.com reports that the home grown school feeding programme was launched by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo as part of a 500 billion naira social investment programme of the federal government of Nigeria early this year.
During the launching, Osinbajo told Nigerians: “Today we lay an important building block in securing our future by mapping out the implementation plan to ensure that even the most disadvantaged children are free from malnutrition.
“It is also important to note that the home grown school feeding programme is a component of the Universal Basic Education Programme that aims at boosting school enrolment and over 93.1 billion naira has been set aside from the budget to fund the feeding project.”
During the launching, it was identified that the programme would increase school enrolment, improve child nutrition and health, strengthen local agricultural economies and create employment opportunities for caterers in food processing.
Comrade Mulade said beside the improvement of nutrition and wellbeing of the child, the value chain benefits of the programme will redirect the energy of the children to more positive values and reduce restiveness and criminality in the oil bearing communities in the Niger Delta.
Mulade, who said though the programme would encourage more children to go to school, children in the flow station communities are yet to benefit from the federal government gesture, hence he called on the Delta state government to extend the programme to the area to make the children have a sense of belonging.
He said in a recent survey conducted in some communities in Delta, it was revealed that more kids are now enrolled in schools as a result of the school feeding programme and lauded the federal government for its introduction.
He said: “First of all, we want to commend the federal government for the introduction of the home grown school feeding programme, it is a laudable one.
“Recently, we carried out a survey in Delta communities where the feeding programme has been introduced and it was discovered that more children in the rural Communities are now going to school as a result of the free feeding.
“It is therefore our humble appeal that the governor should do the needful by extending the federal government home grown school feeding programme to riverine host communities.
“We want to passionately call on Governor Okowa to give sense of belonging to riverine host communities under this programme. We want to see more of our children going back to school in the riverine host communities.”
Comrade Mulade who is also the Chairman of oil rich Kokodiagbene Community, Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri south west local government area, said: “Most of the children in riverine host communities do not go to school, they are into fishing and farming with their peasant parents and this is not good enough, let us entice them to school by extending the federal government home grown school feeding programme to them.”
Delta state government responds, says allegation is baseless, untrue
But in a reaction to the allegation of Mulade, executive secretary of the Delta state micro, small and medium enterprises development agency, Mrs. Shimite Bello, who heads the programme in the state, denied the claims of Comrade Sheriff Mulade, saying the allegations that the programme had not reached the flow stations was untrue.
In her step by step analysis of the workings of the programme, Shimite told NAIJ.com: “We have 1860 caterers to feed 250,000 children in the state from primary 1 to 3. That is the class range we are feeding. Among the 1860 caterers, only 876 caterers have been paid.
“They have not paid all not because they are riverine but they pay them based on BVN clearance. Now, all of them have done their BVN. They are paid from Abuja. They all open account with Fidelity Bank.
“It is Fidelity headquarters that is doing it. Another 500 have been due for payment. So, they keep doing it until all of them are paid. Every caterer will be paid. The caterers we employ live within the communities. The caterer should be about to trek to the school.
“If it is a riverine area, as far as the riverine area has children, food must be provided. The food is simple, rice and beans, yam porridge. If you can cook that one you are qualified. We taught them hygiene and the rest. You must have either a child or grandchild in that school before we choose you so that you don’t poison anybody.
“So we have already taken every measure, unless there is no woman in that community. And if there is no woman, then there is no child. So, the whole story is baseless. Whatever they are saying is not true. We are picking cooks from the communities. They are people that should be able to trek to the school.
“Based on this, nobody can be left behind. All the villages in the state with schools are covered, unless there is no woman there. You must not just live within the local government, you must live in a place that can enable you trek to the school.
“When they are feeling their forms, you know most of their houses do not have addresses, so, when we hear near Okolotu primary school, yes, that woman is fit. You are able to describe the house. So far the house of the woman is near the school, you are okay.
“Before we choose the caterers, we set up a committee headed by the traditional ruler of each local government. Then, NGO that is active in the local government is part of the committee. And a stake holder in the community.
“They work with the local structure. In each committee, they have 10 subcommittees among them, depending on how many wards are there. I’m from Oshimili North, my village is Ebu, there are 8 villages that make up Ebu. Each community gives us youth leader, women leader and the president general.
“They will identify the school within the community. And find the woman that lives near the school. I cannot seat in Asaba and know everything. It is the president general that says this is the woman that can do the work. They picked everybody by themselves. And it was beautiful in their sight.
“They choose the caterer they want by themselves. Our job is to provide health test for them so that they don’t have HIV, hepatitis, tuberculosis and other diseases, but they do the selection themselves. Whatever they did, we accept, we didn’t adjust.”
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