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$1bn annual school feeding programme must be probed – HURIWA

Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, on Friday, demanded a probe into the Federal Government’s $1bn annual allocation for the National Social Investment Programme.

In a statement signed by the group’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA described described the NSIP which include the school feeding programme as the single biggest fraud in Africa.

HURIWA’s statement is in response to a comment by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq, during the flag-off of grant for vulnerable groups and digitised cash transfer payment, on Tuesday in Osogbo.

The minister through the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Nasir Gwarzoh, said $1 bn is being earmarked annually for NSIP, dscribing the programme as the largest in Africa, “with over $1billion earmarked annually to cause positive change in the lives of the poorest and the most vulnerable in the country.

“Let me use this opportunity to inform us that over 12 million households had benefitted from NSIP interventions in the last five years.”

Reacting, Onwubiko said that “It is unfortunate that the programme started by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016 has been a conduit for siphoning billions of taxpayers’ funds”.

HURIWA said it is glaring even to the unsound minds that it is impracticable that the government is spending so much money on the poor but the population of the poor keeps doubling up since 2015 to a toxic extent that Nigeria became the poverty capital of the world in 2018 thus overtaking India with approximately 90 million absolutely poor families.

The group demands a comprehensive audit of the programme since its inception and challenged the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, to publish a detailed account of the ministry since she took over office and also publish the list of beneficiaries from inception.

The group noted that such account should contain names of all the vendors working for the government on the project, their addresses, owners, and other important verifiable details.

The statement read, “The National Social Investment Programme which includes the School-Feeding Programme is perhaps the biggest fraud scheme in the whole of Africa. This is the most significant governmental fraud to have ever been activated in Africa because apart from being opaque, it is also characterised by absolute falsehoods, especially in the so-called school feeding programme whereby pupils are fed with obviously poorly prepared foods that taste like foods that are fed to the local breed of dogs in the villages.

“The poorly made foods given to school pupils are distasteful despite the humongous amount been spent. The last time Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo tasted the food, his face spoke another language that showed his displeasure. HURIWA make bold to ask if any government official’s child is a pupil in the schools where the foods are being served? We remembered that even governor Nasir El-Rufai’s son that was comically enlisted in a public school in Kaduna was almost immediately withdrawn before he could partake in the eating of the food that can at be obviously described as POISONOUS CHALICE”.

“The programme has been marred with several cases of fraud since November 2019 when the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission arrested two persons involved in a N68,097,053 fraud.

“Also, in September 2020, the ICPC said investigations done showed that N2.67 billion released for school feeding of the 104 Unity Colleges during the COVID-19 lockdown found its way into individual accounts.

“But as usual, nothing has been done to unearth the rot and the corruption obvious in the programme that has become a conduit to siphon billions of taxpayers’ funds.

“HURIWA demands a comprehensive forensic audit into the accounts of the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry. Nigerians need to know. Enough of the charade and shenanigan!

“It must be made known to these officials that history will be so unkind to them for feeding Nigerian kids with poorly prepared foods and then end up announcing humongous amount appropriated for such show of shame.”

 

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