By Adesina Wahab
Lagos State Government has created 202 centres where 37,589 benefiting households would go and collect food vouchers in the home feeding programme embarked upon in conjunction with the Federal Government.
The programme is a continuation of the Homegrown School Feeding Programme for pupils in public primary schools, even when the schools are shut down due to the outbreak of Coronavirus disease.
This was disclosed by the Executive Chairman, Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board, Hon. Wahab Alawiye-King, when he led members of the Board to the warehouse where the palliatives were being packaged.
Fielding questions during the visit, he said 202 centres would be used across the 20 local government areas and 37 local council development areas for the distribution of vouchers to beneficiaries.
He gave the assurance that the Board had done due diligence on data collection and the logistics to get the items to the beneficiaries.
“It is in line with the presidential directive given regarding helping our pupils to feed well during this COVID-19 pandemic. It is done in collaboration with state governments and other stakeholders. Even tbe representatives of the World Food Programme are here. We have been working for the past four weeks to ensure the directive is carried out.
“Pupils in primary one to three are benefiting. We have gone ahead to identify the households that will benefit and they are 37, 589. Because schools are not in session, we are not going to give the pupils cooked food items. We are considering a situation of a family consisting the parents and three children.
“Each will get five kilogrammes of rice, five kilogrammes of beans, half crate of egg, two tomato pastes, salt and others. We will give them vouchers a day before collection and I can assure you that the process is being monitored by local and international groups and agencies,” he said.
Alawiye-King also assured that the exercise would not be hijacked by anybody and that probity and transparency would be adopted.
Speaking in the same manner, tbhe Special Assistant to the President on Homegrown School Feeding Programme, Titilola Adeyemi-Doro, who was also at the warehouse to monitor the exercise, said people should not entertain any fear of the possible failure of the programme.
“The Federal Government is collaborating with the state governments on this project. With the help of relevant government agencies, we have collated data of beneficiaries. The schools have registers of the pupils and other relevant information and house-to-house identification has been done. The package is for a month and if the schools are still shut after that the distribution of the items will continue,” she said.
While none of the government officials have any specific time the distribution will start, it was gathered that it could be next week when the packaging would have been completed.
Workers were seen at the warehouse repacking the items into customised bags bearing the label of the Humanitarian Ministry.
Recall that Minister Umar Farouq had last week said the feeding programme, suspended because schools are shut down due to COVID-19 outbreak, would start this week Thursday.
Some stakeholders in the sector, such as the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, and parents took up the government on the logistics that would make it work.
The FG says it spends N70 per meal daily to feed 9.7 million pupils in 53,715 schools in 31 states of the federation before schools were shut down because of COVID-19.
That translates to N679 million daily or N13.5 billion monthly.
The FG contributes 60 percent of the money and the states augment the rest.