Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management has reacted to the allegations of fraud levelled against her by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The Herald yesterday reported that PDP claimed to have uncovered a fresh plot by Presidency and other APC big guns to siphon N13.5 billion government funds under the cover of feeding school children despite the closure of schools due to COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Minister Sadiya who has been assigned the duty of facilitating the project denied the allegations describing the alleged daily spending of N679million on food as “false” and totally “inaccurate”.
She gave the denial at the daily briefing of Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs said; “For clarity, the programme which is funded by the federal government of Nigeria is implemented by the state governments and facilitated by the Federal Ministry of human Affairs, disaster Management and Social Development.
“And this programme, as modified is targeted at heads of the households, guardians and caregivers of these children – primary school pupils one to three.
“And also, we are not spending N679 million per day as alluded to, that number is inaccurate the take-home ration worth N4,200 per household and as planned as a monthly COVID-19 intervention for 3, 131,971 household in the participating states of the Federation.
“When the federal government ordered the closure of schools across the country in order to help flatten the curve on the COVID-19, it interrupted the school feeding programme, which is one of our Cardinal project has a government and which preceded the COVID-19 outbreak, because the programme was already ongoing food vendors had already been contacted and mobilized for the project.
“We are also mindful of the fact that most vendors having mobilised are made purchases Preparatory to the project as official. It’s not just possible to ask them for a refund. This has been done before the school calendar was disrupted.”
Hajiya Sadiya disclosed the government opted for a modified school feeding programme of taking food to the homes of pupils. This is because food vendors may not be able to refund money which some had used in preparing for the project.
She explained that the addresses of school pupils were obtained from their schools.
“That is how we arrived at the modified school feeding programme of taking food rations into the households of this children. So how we got our data with children at home was another issue.
“When children are enrolled in schools, as part of the registration process has a detailed register which contains the address of parents and guardians of every people is kept with the school as well as the class teachers. We also obtained those from SUBEB and other sources.
“Also, in the community where these are children live, every child’s home can be easily identified by members of that community and management of these schools. So to ensure full transparency so that the programme is not compromised, we are submitting a full list of all the vendors to the EFCC and let me also state here that these vendors have been in the structure since 2016. So, we’re using existing structure is not a whole new programme that were enrolling, no.
“The vendors that have been in the programme that we are using because they used to provide these food and materials to the cooks to cook.
“We have also invited other agencies of government including the DSS, EFFC, ICPC code of conduct and a host of NGOs and CSOs to help us monitor. I’m sure you agree with me yesterday, you must have noticed a large number of people participating in the process or in the flag off because we engage as many stakeholders as possible to be part of that being very mindful of the social distance guideline.
“I am going into some [details] in order to disapprove some misinformation and misunderstanding around modified programme and to ask Nigerians to support this for active intervention designed to keep our children fed during this pandemic, So that objective of this National home work school feeding programme is not compromised.”