The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has vowed to mobilise its members for a nationwide protest if the Federal Government continued its planned school feeding programme during school closure occasioned by of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Federal Government had on Friday explained that it will continue its school feeding programme because it was practically impossible to get back the funds that had already been paid to food vendors before the COVID-19 lockdowns in states commenced.
Sadiya Umar-Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, urged Nigerians to support the scheme. She 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.”
However, 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 queried the source of the proposed N697m to be spent daily, amounting to N13.5bn a month on the programme, stressing that the decision was “reckless spending.”
“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,” he said.
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.
President Buhari seeks to raise the N850 billion loan from the domestic capital market to ensure adequate funds to finance projects in the 2020 budget.