Monday, 4 January 2016

We won't import food for school feeding scheme – FG



The Presidency on Sunday explained that the social intervention programmes of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, for which about half a trillion naira has been proposed in the 2016 budget, would not be a one-off scheme.

The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the Vice President, Mr. Laolu Akande, who stated this in a statement on Sunday, said the Federal Government would not import food for its school feeding programme.

Akande described the intervention as a combination of several programmes, emphasising direct connections with the extremely poor and the needy among other categories of the masses.

He added that the plan had taken care of some of the factors that led to the failure of previous poverty alleviation schemes.

He said, 'One of the major differences here is that the social intervention programme such as the Conditional Cash Transfer would be a direct transfer of N5,000 monthly to the extremely poor among us.

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'This is a safety net that several advanced nations have put in place long time in their history often at times of economic challenges.

'The money would be paid directly to the people concerned on the condition of school enrolment and immunisation.

'This way, we are expanding school enrolment and also assuring physical well-being.'

Akande explained that the School Feeding Programme, which is another aspect of the social intervention programmes, would be entirely homegrown, unlike previous Federal Government plans in the past which relied on importation.

He added, 'Homegrown school feeding programme will commence in public primary schools in the New Year providing adequate nutrition to schoolchildren, promoting local farming, boost agriculture and create jobs and wealth locally.

'We have experts working in the Presidency, collaborating with experts from global bodies who together will bring to bear international best practices working on how best to implement these programmes.

'I can tell you that no sooner had President Buhari resumed work than many of these experts have been meeting and planning on how best to implement these plans.

'We are not talking here of something hurriedly put together or a programme where some consultants would take the huge chunk of the resources.'

He also said provision had been made for about one million jobs in 2016, including 500,000 graduate-youths to be engaged as teachers and another 500,000 non-graduate unemployed people, who would be trained as artisans.

He added that the Presidency was aware of past failures in the poverty alleviation efforts and determined not to repeat them.

'As the President disclosed during the budget speech, he has asked the Vice President to coordinate the programmes and I can tell you that serious work is already in place,' Akande added.

He reiterated that for the first time in Nigeria's budgetary history, the Federal Government would be directly intervening in lifting people out of poverty through a series of measures already proposed totaling N500bn or about nine per cent of the budget itself.

He added that another one million extremely poor and disabled Nigerians would also benefit from the first phase of the Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme proposed in the 2016 appropriation bill to enable them to live decently.

'There will also be the provision of affordable, very low cost loans to market women and artisans to enable them to enlarge and expand their trades,' he added.

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