The National Association of Nigerian Students on Friday said it would mobilise its members for a nationwide protest if the Federal Government continued its school feeding programme during school closure occasioned by of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is as the Federal Government on Friday explained that it continued the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme because it was practically impossible to get back the funds that had already been paid to food vendors before the lockdowns in states commenced.
The NANS President, Danielson Akpan, in a statement in Abuja, said the programme was a misplaced priority and a “discreet attempt to fleece the hard-earned resources of the country.”
Akpan said the source of the proposed N697m to be spent daily, amounting to N13.5bn a month on the programme, must be queried, stressing that the decision was “reckless spending.”
He said, “The national body of NANS, after a deliberate and robust discussion on the Federal Government’s decision to commence the school feeding programme during a virtual meeting held earlier this morning (Friday), vehemently rejected and condemned in totality the said decision.
“We condemn in totality the plan to feed school children at home. We see it as an avenue to perpetuate corruption and fraudulent activities.
“We do not only condemn this, we also frown at any attempt by some people to further loot our national treasury. The continuation of the school feeding programme at this period that schools are closed is sheer fraud.
“If the Federal Government goes ahead to implement the programme, we will have no choice but to mobilise our members across the federation for a mother of all protests.”
Akpan called on the Federal Government to use the money meant for the execution of the programme to revive the collapsed education system and fund infrastructural projects in institutions.
Explaining why the Federal Government went ahead with the programme despite the lockdown, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, urged Nigerians to support the scheme.
She spoke in Abuja at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and stressed that government could not get back the funds it had already invested in the hands of vendors for the food items.
Umar-Farouq said, “Because the programme was already ongoing, food vendors had already been contracted and mobilised for the project. We are also mindful of the fact that most vendors, having been mobilised, had made purchases preparatory to the project execution. It is just not possible to ask them for refunds.
“This had been done before the school calendar was disrupted. In light of this, demanding a refund will be cumbersome and unrealistic.”