Eight states embrace school feeding programme

Timothy Choji, Osogbo

Nigeria’s President Muhmmadu Buhari, is passionate about alleviating the plight of citizens, especially those residing in rural areas.

This, according to the Operations Manager of the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme, Mr Dotun Adebayo, is the reason why the current administration introduced the social investment programmes, already captured in the 2016 budget, in order to make life better for Nigerians.

Mr Adebayo, was speaking to newsmen in Osogbo, Osun state, at the opening of a three-day programme organized for delegates from selected states across Nigeria, who are on a learning visit to the state, concerning the school feeding programme, which the state has being  implementing successfully for the past four years.

“The Home Grown School Feeding Programme is just a section of the Social Investment Programme that the Nigerian government has introduced and the passion that President Muhammadu Buhari has, is to ensure that the needs of people at the grassroots are met.

He wants to ensure that we bring some funds and support to the poor and the less privileged within the country. That’s why his desire is to ensure that the social investment programmes are implemented across the country,” he said.

On the special event in Osun, the Operations Manager said delegates from seven states of Ogun, Oyo, Kwara, Kaduna, Enugu, Borno and Lagos states were gathered to understudy the methods applied by Osun in implementing the School Feeding Programme, in order to replicate same in their states, when they return home.

“The essence of the visit by delegates from various states is to give them some learning experience of the programme that has been running in Osun regarding the School Feeding Programme which has been running for the past four years in Osun state successfully and it has been sustained,” Mr Adbayo explained.

He said the visiting states are expected to pick from Osun, the basic standards on how to also implement the programme in their states.

 Campaign Promise

Declaring the event open, Osun State Deputy Governor, Mrs Grace Titilayo Tomori expressed delight at the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to implement the School Feeding Programme at the national level.

“I was very excited the day it was confirmed that this programme would be introduced nationally because my state has been a forerunner of the programme. I remember vividly that President Buhari campaigned that he will introduce the programme all over Nigeria because he saw the impact in Osun and I’m glad he has fulfilled that campaign promise,” the Deputy Governor stated.

Mrs Tomori who advised all states in the country to key into the programme, further said “The School Feeding Programme will help address unemployment and boost agriculture and the economy. Malnutrition will no longer exist.”

The Deputy Governor explained that the programme has generated employment, especially for the women folk in Osun, majority of who now farm tomatoes and cocoayam, among many other crops.

Earlier, the School Feeding Programme Manager in Osun state, Mrs Olubunmi Ayoola stated that programme started yielding the needed impact few weeks after it was introduced in the state.

According to her, “school enrolment immediately increased by 25 percent, just four weeks after introducing the programme. We now have over 225,000 pupils in classes 1-4.”

She said the state spends N50 per child daily on feeding, totaling N325.6 million monthly, using 3007 vendors in the process.

Some of the delegates, Hajia Hauwa Usman from Kaduna and Mr Shalangwa Zakka from Borno state, said the programme is a laudable one that will definitely encourage children to attend school.

They both pledged to be committed towards the implementation of the programme in their states, to encourage school attendance, boost agriculture and the economy.

Activities line up for the three-day learning visit include field visits to both the crop, poultry and fish farms where the raw materials for the feeding programme are grown as well as visits to some selected schools to see how the pupils are being fed.