January 18, 2021

Buhari extends school feeding to Almajiri schools, others

Insecurity: We can't afford to disappoint Nigerians ― Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

…Raises the number of beneficiaries by 1m

By Joseph Erunke, Abuja

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has approved the extension of the ongoing school feeding programme in the country to Almajiri schools and other children in non-conventional education settings.

The president also approved the expansion of the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIPs) to accommodate more traders, graduates, farmers, among others.

Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, disclosed these, Monday, in Abuja, during the 4th Annual Review of the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme, NHGSFP.

The minister said given the  president’s  approval of increment in the number of beneficiaries, the NHGSFP will include additional five million pupils, “including children in non-conventional educational settings.”

Also read: ActionAid calls for legislative framework backing social investment programmes

According to her, “the N-Power programme will create jobs for one million beneficiaries, the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programmes (GEEP) programme will provide loans to an additional one million traders, farmers and market people, while the social register is also being expanded to accommodate an additional one million households.”

Hear her: “It was my pleasure to have attended the 3rd review meeting in Akwa Ibom in 2019, only a few months after the creation of the Ministry. You will recall that we had our first engagement as a collaborative entity at that event and recommendations were made by participants to improve the coordination, administration and implementation of the various Social Investment Programmes.

“It is therefore my pleasure to inform you that we have heeded recommendations, recorded appropriate progress and exceeded expectations.  Since the programmes were transferred to the ministry, we have had continuous engagements with all-state programme officials and have assigned desk officers to each of the clusters within the ministry, whom you have been liaising with for many months.

“We have continued to engage and collaborate with state governors on the implementation of the programme. The ministry is also working with federal and state MDAs, INGOs and NGOs to evolve policies that would support the institutionalisation of the social investment programs in the nation.

“We have restructured the GEEP program and other NSIPs to align them with our mandate of providing fair, focused social inclusion programmes to the vulnerable in Nigeria. Furthermore, the FCT has been included in the school feeding programme, while Kwara state is set to commence feeding in a few months time. The NHGSFP will soon launch a capacity building exercise for vendors and enumeration of all beneficiaries on the programme.

“Plans have been concluded for the exit and transition of the N-Power batch A & B through the creation of the NEXIT portal, which would allow those who choose to sign up to access other government empowerment opportunities. A beneficiary management system for the NSIPs is expected to be deployed in 2021, which would have the capacity to manage payments, address grievances and improve the dissemination of information Additionally, you are aware that Mr President has approved the expansion of the NSIPs, as part of his vision to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.

“The NHGSFP is to reach an additional 5 million pupils including children in non-conventional educational settings. The N-Power programme is to create jobs for a total of one million beneficiaries. The GEEP programme will provide loans to an additional one million traders, farmers and market people; the social register is also being expanded to accommodate an additional 1 million households.

“We have also launched the Rural Women grant, which will reach women in 36 States of the Federation and the FCT. As part of the Economic Sustainability Plan, the Shock Responsive Social Register is to be launched, which would provide grants funds to 1 million identified vulnerable persons in urban areas.  We have also successfully created and operationalized the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities to better manage the needs of our comrades who have special needs.”

She spoke further: “It is therefore safe to say that we have been working tirelessly to ensure that vulnerable Nigerians are brought into the Federal Governments social protection umbrella, which seeks to support, empower and level the playing field so that they are better equipped to handle economic and social shocks while contributing their quota to society and to the betterment of our great Nation.

“The National Home Grown School Feeding Program is an important intervention because of the multiple wins it is capable of delivering. It is a vehicle for reducing hunger, promoting educational gains, health status improvement and economic stimulation. Such Programmes are recognized as positive indicators for Countries who are on track to achieve sustainable development. The long term benefits to our children and the future of the Nation cannot be overemphasized. Thus we must resolve to remain steadfast in ensuring that this program reaches its objective and improves the lives of its beneficiaries.

“Each one of us here today has been selected by different persons at different times to achieve the same goals which are to eliminate poverty in all its forms and uplift humanity. It is therefore not by coincidence that we have found ourselves at this forum together, to carry on with the work of assessing our efforts, identifying our weaknesses celebrating our strengths and encouraging one another to work harder, smarter and in a more transparent manner for the benefit of those who are under our charge.

“The Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development remain committed to providing the necessary support and the enabling environment for social protection and inclusion policies to grow and take root in the fabric of our nation so that future generations will thrive and succeed in a growingly competitive world.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and its various ramifications have forced each of us to confront worst-case scenarios, but rather than dampen our spirits, I believe that we have only become stronger in our resolve to protect those in need.

“Therefore, I urge you all to participate fully in the activities of the review and share knowledge so that together we may succeed in our program shared objectives and fulfil Mr President’s vision.”

Vanguard News Nigeria