Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja.
The Kogi State Office of Social Investment Programme (SIP) has refuted the report from a section of the media that ”pupils were fed with rotten fish and stale bread” in schools under its Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP) in the state.
The Public Relations Officer, Office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Multilateral, Donor Agencies and Special Projects, Mr. Ahmed Bachido, who is the SIP Focal Person in Kogi, told journalists in Lokoja that the story was untrue.
”There was never a time any pupil in any school was fed with either rotten fish or stale bread because adequate measures and monitoring are being carried out to forestall such anomalies.
”The safety of our pupils is important to us, hence the proper attention and monitoring that the office has put in place to ensure that pupils are fed with quality food at all times.
”The pilot phase of the programme was test run in February 2019 and the food menu was carefully followed by all the caterers and the food served to the pupils were perfectly in order as directed and monitored.
Bachido added: ”The Head of Unit of HGSFP in Kogi State, Hajia Khadijat Karibo has been very effective in her official engagements of ensuring that adequate arrangement and preliminaries were put in place for effective implementation of HGSFP in the state.”
He stated that the office has organised several seminars and sensitisation for the caterers, food vendors, heads of primary schools, store keepers and other critical stakeholders to ensure strict adherence to terms and condition of HGSFP operations.
”We have also put adequate measures in place to ensure proper sanction for any caterer, aggregator or vendor, who default the process.”
He explained that the processes involved in getting the caterers for the programme were duly followed, saying that the caterers that met the required qualification were made to get a health report from government owned hospitals to verify their health and hygiene status.
”The HGSFP in Kogi State is effectively running and we are doing everything possible to make sure that the laid down guidelines for its operations are strictly followed by all stakeholders involved in the process.
”The Kogi SIP Office is focused, committed and transparent in its bid to achieve the good ideals of all the programmes in line with the aim and objective of the national office.”
Bachido added that the allegation of illegally deducting fund from caterers’ account was also a misrepresentation of the fact of the matter, saying that a well-documented agreement was made between caterers and food vendors, where the caterers authorised the bank to debit their accounts for all payment due to their respective food vendors who supply the food inputs.
He added that the official letter to the national body of SIP detailing the agreement the caterers had with the aggregators was duly signed by Governor Yahaya Bello and submitted by the former Focal Person, Hon. Adoga Ibrahim.
He reiterated that the new Focal Person for Kogi SIP, Hon. Abdulkareem Suleiman and all the heads of units under SIP are focused and committed to consolidating on the successes recorded in the state since its inception.
He disclosed that 850 caterers have been engaged, while 1,500 caterers would be added soon. ”A total of 12,964 unemployed graduates, engaged in both Batch A and B, are currently benefiting from the N-Power Programme in Kogi.
”62,559 pupils captured from 447 schools are currently benefitting from the HGSFP, while 11,513 are benefiting from the Conditional Cash Transfer in the state.
”A total of 4,192 market women are currently benefitting from the Marketmoni segment of the SIP. We are focused and determined to widen the horizon of the programme to accommodate more beneficiaries with a view to creating employment and empowerment opportunities.
”The HGSFP in Kogi is working assiduously in line with the defined template of the programme to improving children’s enrolment in primary school in Nigeria and also motivating the pupils to go to school.
”We will continue to vigorously pursue the good ideals of the programmes as conceived by the Buhari APC-led administration and with the total support of Bello led government in Kogi State,” Bachido said.