Nigerians berates Buhari over School feeding during lockdown

give Govt benefit of the doubt – Mimiko

Photo: TheGuardian

Nigerians have criticize the plans of President Muhammadu Buhari to continue to school feeding programme amidst the closure of schools across the country.

President Buhari announced while addressing Nigerians, said he has instructed the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to work with state governments in developing a strategy on how to sustain the school feeding programme despite the closure of schools”

Meanwhile, the concerned Nigerians who spoke in separate interviews recently, described as ridiculous and fraudulent for the scheme to continue at this time.

A former Dean of the Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources, University of Ibadan, Professor Bamidele Omitoyin noted that it is unhygienic to share cooked meal. He said: “There is no sense in continuing the school feeding programme when the participating schools are closed. Even if they want to give internally displaced people and orphanages, it is not proper. It is not hygienic this time.”

Similarly, a lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Dr. Chijioke Uwasomba, said, “Nigerians are opposed to the lockdown he announced not because it is not a proper thing, but because of his peculiar dictatorial tendencies. Some Nigerians are reacting, saying that he should have got the approval of the National Assembly to do it.”

He also said “people have lost confidence in the President Muhammed Buhari-led government, saying. “So, the question with the continuation of school feeding programme, the money would run into millions. Are they going to feed those pupils from their homes?

“I am here with my children even though they have not benefitted from the school feeding programme. Would they be fed at home?”

Uwasomba however enjoined the Federal Government to place more priority on battling with the coronavirus pandemic aswell as safety of health workers “They should follow up on what they are doing in Lagos State to get through with this.” he said.

Expressing satisfaction over work done so far to battle the infections in some states like Ogun, Uwasomba said “I’m happy that the Ogun State government is showcasing the isolation centres it has built. So, efforts in that direction should be encouraged.”

For Mr Emmanuel Aweda, a meteorologist and lecturer at the Meteorological Research and Training Institute of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) Oshodi, Lagos, the plan is not a scheme but a scam. “It is not a scheme but a scam. How do you feed school children where there’s no school, especially in locked down states? First thing first! Is there a monitor or check on what is being done? The corruption in this scheme stinks. This is what I see and know right here in Ogun State.”

Aweda is of the opinion that an independent body be engaged in handling some of the government scheme to curb fraud. “Nigeria needs an independent group on all these schemes, including Tradermoni, Pocketmoni and Farmermoni.”

Also, a commercial poultry farmer in Ibadan, Mr John Olateru, maintained that the plans is a misplaced priority. “It does not make sense because pupils are on (a compulsory) holiday. It is not clearly stated. We do not know what we are doing.”

He said the implementation of the scheme is not feasible considering the lockdown as movement of foods between Oyo and Osun states is already being restricted, saying more people may die of hunger than COVID-19 if care is not taken. he said.

Also, the chairman of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Imo State chapter and National Public Relations Officer of the Catfish and Allied Fish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFFAN), Uchegbu Chijioke Nicholas, said “It has no atom of reality since the government has ordered students to go home to avoid infecting themselves with COVID-19 pandemic. How can it be? So, the best thing is to halt it as other activities in the nation have been halted.

“So, I believe that is the best thing and the government should as well instruct contractors in charge of school feeding programme to stop forthwith so that no extra cost would be incurred. We have to face the reality. The students are not in the school session,”

“We cannot be solving a problem and be creating more problems. There would be another outbreak of livestock diseases in the future if farmers have no vaccine now. Help us to convey the message to the government that veterinary needs and medications and disinfectants are essential.” Nicholas said.

A Nigerian and public analyst, Mr Covenant Umoru, raised concern over the proposed moderlities to be employed to continue the scheme “The school feeding project which the government allegedly intends to continue is not feasible. How do they intend to achieve it when all schools are closed?
“Do they intend to prepare the food and distribute it house-to-house? Emphatically no! I am certain that the various school authorities do not know the residence of most of their learners. I strongly think it is just a propaganda to calm frail nerves who are very inquisitive to know the modalities the government have put in place to bring succour to the under-privileged at such a time as this.

Mr. Emmanuel Unubi, a politician, said, “The fact that the institutions in which those measures are meant for are closed down is enough reason to pass a message to Nigerians. Truth be told, I think that message is doctored; else, why would the president be making package for the students when the schools are closed?”

Meanwhile, Prof. Femi Mimiko, a former vice chancellor of the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, has called on Nigerians to be patient and allow the appropriate ministries to present the modalities as directed by the president.

“I don’t think we should be quick to judge. What I heard the president said was that the relevant ministries would work out the modalities.”

He assumed that if the modalities are worked out well but impracticable, the stakeholders would probably not work with it.

“I think there’s good intension, which implies they would continue to feed those kids and what the president said was that they should work out the modalities for implementation. I think we should give them the benefit of the doubt,” Mimiko said.

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