By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), has disclosed that a total of 9.3 million pupils are savouring the benefits of the home grown school feeding programme of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government across the country.
Osinbajo said the programme apart from shoring up school enrollments, had also been of tremendous help in job creation and poverty reduction among Nigerians.
The number two man added that the policy, which he described as a flagship of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government, remained one of the four cardinal objectives of the empowerment and social investment policy of the President Buhari-led administration.
The vice-president spoke in Ado Ekiti on Tuesday during the official launch of the school Feeding Programme at St. Michael’s Primary School in Ekiti State.
Osinbajo, who praised Governor Kayode Fayemi for keying into the programme, said: “The aim of this government is to provide food to our students to make them focused in schools and solve the problem of malnutrition in our children.
“When a child suffers malnutrition in school, the diseases associated with it may cause serious challenge to our pupils and that is why we are taking care of their health for them to be more regular in schools.
“The federal government has decided to introduce this programme to turn around the agriculture sector by patronising the products of our farmers, who will sell their products in all the schools in their areas.”
Reeling out the benefits of the programme, Osinbajo said: “9.3 million pupils are benefitting in over 56,506 primary schools across this country. 190,000 farmers are supplying materials, 767 cows are killed weekly and 7.3 million eggs are consumed weekly via this policy.
“Governor Fayemi’s support for the policy shows the importance of the programme and it will help in fighting poverty in this state.”
Osinbajo stated that the policy has also helped in improving the capacities of some people, especially the vendors to be able to feed their families.
“Some asked how many jobs will this create? The benefits are unimaginable. But we are sure that we are going to increase the scope of all our social investment programmes, including tradermoni in the next level,” she said.
Governor Fayemi, who described the policy as very significant in the lives of the people, commended the federal government for the initiative.
He said the programme was an initiative of President Buhari, but was being anchored through the office of the vice-president.
Fayemi stressed that the state places high premium on the policy, because it pays attention to our vulnerable population.
“Before we left, we had a social security scheme where we used to give N5,000 for 25,000 vulnerable elders. We had the Ekiti State Youth Volunteer Corps, where 10,000 youths got N10,000 monthly. We have introduced free education at both primary and secondary schools, among others.
“Unfortunately, these programmes cease to exist throughout the four years of that interregnum and it affected the state significantly. When we came back, students were paying school fees when we ran free education during our time. Our education rating declined even where we were coming first and we became the last in the South-west.
“That is why we are happy that this policy is kicking off in Ekiti. Equally, we decided to key into the programme because it was a fulfilment of the APC government and many others will come,” he said.
Fayemi disclosed that 2,000 vendors had already been employed to supply food in the 905 primary schools, while 75,000 pupils in primary one to three are to benefit.
“Our country Nigeria can’t be allowed to slide into the wrong hands and that was why the people decided to vote President Buhari. It is clear that Nigerians supported our ideology and the outcome of the recent elections confirmed this.
“Ekiti people also showed where they belong. This is not a stomach infrastructure, but our children will be remembering this for life.
“These young children are the leaders of tomorrow. We express our appreciation to President Buhari and Yemi Osinbajo for bringing this programme to Ekiti,” the governor said.