Photograph — Schools and Health

Yesterday, the Nigerian federal government released a statement to resolve the confusion surrounding the source and type of funding that will go into the National Home-Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programme. In the statement, the presidency mentioned that state governments are not required to make any financial commitment as the funds needed for the implementation of the school feeding programme have already been covered in the 2016 national budget.

According to the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, N93.1 billion from the budget has been set aside to take care of the feeding needs of millions of primary school children in Nigerian schools. Also, contrary to the notion that state governments would be burdened by a counterpart funding arrangement, the federal government simply required them to embrace the programme.

The misunderstanding around plans to fund the programme was accentuated in the politically charged comments made by Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, who stated, on Sunday, that he wouldn’t be contributing the alleged 40 percent in counterpart funding to the school feeding programme. In the governor’s opinion, the states were not consulted before the programme was proposed by the current administration during last year’s elections. In addition to this, he claimed Ekiti State – and other states – could barely afford it.

Thus, in what seems like a response to the governor’s perception, the federal government is assuring Nigerians that while states are encouraged to support the HGSF programme in any way that they can, the programme has been properly thought through and is ready to go live. Akande notes that several states have already begun to initiate the programme without any help from the federal government.

Plans to launch the National Home-grown School Feeding programme to provide primary school children with free meals were announced in September of 2015 by the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, at the 45th Annual Accountants Conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) in Abuja.

Besides the benefit of a free meal for school children, other highlights of the programme include 1.14 million jobs, increased food production, and up to N980 billion worth of investments. Speaking at the launching of the programme in Abuja last week, Vice President Osibanjo reiterated the major benefits of the programme and further explained both short and long term impacts of the programme’s strategic plan.

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