The Federal Government’s school feeding programme is collapsing with food vendors no more turning up in schools, The PUNCH has learnt.
Findings by our correspondents in Benue, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Ogun, Enugu, Bauchi and Kano states showed that vendors because of non-payment of their funds had stopped providing food in the schools.
In some states, teachers and pupils told The PUNCH that when the programme was in operation, it was epileptic with few of the schoolchildren getting food when the vendors turned up.
Our correspondent, who visited some schools in Makurdi, the Benue State capital city, gathered that since the beginning of second term in January, the programme had not resumed.
We were fed only three days in 2021 – Benue pupil
A primary four pupil of the LGEA Primary School at Idemekpe, Makurdi, Terry Orduen said that throughout 2021, the schoolchildren were fed for three days. “Since the inception of this second term we have yet to see the cooks in our school. In 2021, we were fed for three days,” he added.
Corroborating the pupil, a teacher at the LGEA Primary School at Wuruku, who spoke on condition of anonmity, asked if the programme still existed.
“Is the programme still on? For the past few months, I have not seen the cooks in this school. I cannot remember if our children were fed last term, “the teacher said.
But some of the food vendors said that they had yet to be paid for second term.
We were paid last in Sept
One of them who identified himself as Agbo attributed their inability to feed the pupils to the Federal Government’s default in the payment of their funds.
She stated, “We have been following up on why we have not been paid and why the contractors supplying us the items failed to do so.
“They have made us undergo revalidation and we have completed the process, and what we are waiting is the release of funds so that we can start feeding the children.”
The state Focal Person, Dr Damsa Terries, however debunked the claim by food vendors that they being owed.
He added, “Cooks do not use their money to cook. The Federal Government gives them money first so it is not possible for cooks to say they are being owed.
“You don’t cook when money has not been given. It is when you get alert in your account that you know number of pupil’s you are going to feed.”