Peter Dada, Akure
The Ondo State Government has debunked reports that the Home Grown School Feeding Programme for primary school pupils has stopped in the state, saying the programme is ongoing.
There was a public outcry last week over the alleged suspension of the programme by the state government reportedly due to lack of funds.
In the same vein, some parents of the pupils, under the auspices of the Concerned Parents of Primary School Pupils, alleged that the pupils were fed for just three weeks before the programme was stopped. The group added that the government had no money to pay the food vendors, which they argued accounted for the termination of the school feeding programme.
However, the Special Adviser to the Ondo State Governor on Public and Inter-Governmental Relations, Mrs. Olubunmi Ademosu, explained that the programme was not stopped, but temporarily suspended as a result of discrepancies in the bank information submitted by the food vendors.
Ademosu said many of the cooks engaged in the programme did not have bank accounts before they registered for the programme but hurriedly opened the accounts without genuine Bank Verification Numbers.
She stressed that many of the names submitted by the food vendors did not tally with the BVNs, stating that “this caused the difficulty in crediting their accounts.”
Ademosu added, “Most of the cooks are not high-tech caterers in line with the decision of government to ensure that the programme does not only provide food for school children but also serve as an empowerment platform for the people.
“The agency monitoring the programme in Abuja discovered that apart from giving wrong information about themselves, investigations revealed that many of the vendors had plans to ‘sublet’ the job to people that were not medically and professionally certified fit for the programme.”
She explained that the programme was carefully designed in a way that resources allocated to ensure the success of the programme were not diverted, saying this informed the direct crediting of the accounts of the over 1,000 cooks in the scheme.
“In the school feeding programme, about 78,000 pupils are already being fed in the state with the target to touch over 100,000 pupils across the three senatorial districts,” she added.
Ademosu stated that about 90 per cent of the vendors had rectified their accounts.
“Hopefully, the right vendors will be credited by Monday (tomorrow) while the programme will resume immediately,” she said.
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.