The House of Representatives has expressed serious outrage over the whopping sum of N186 billion reportedly spent by the Federal Government on school feeding programme through the National Conditional Cash Transfer Office (NICTO).
During the plenary on Monday, the House Joint Committees on Public Accounts, Health Services and Institution, through its lead chairman, Oluwole Oke, and other members expressed their disappointment over the expenditure at an investigative hearing in Abuja.
The joint panel picked holes in the spending while grilling the National Coordinator of the School Feeding Programme, Mrs. Sinkaye Temitope, and National Safety Net Coordinating Officer, Mr. Iowa Apera, over the disbursement of the N64 billion out of N186 billion said to have been so far spent on feeding the school pupils alone.
As a result, the panel described the spending as outrageous and unacceptable, demanding a complete project audit of the programme immediately.
The lawmakers were enraged by a document submitted to the committee which showed that the NICTO office received a credit of $400 million from the World Bank, $321 million from Abacha Restitution, and another $400 million said to be balance from the government equity fund.
But the National Coordinator told the lawmakers that the feeding programme had been ongoing since 2016 when the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs initiated it and had so far gulped N186 billion.
She further told the committee that the budget breakdown showed that N63.2 billion, N32.2 billion, and N124.4 billion were spent by the office in 2018, 2019, and 2020 respectively.
Other committee members, including Chudi Momah (Anambra, APGA) and Miriam Onuoha (Imo, APC), denounced the report, saying that many schools and communities were yet to benefit from the school feeding programme.
Momah was visibly enraged as it was documented that 200,000 pupils from different families had benefited from it from Ihiala Local Council Area of Anambra State, a claim which he refuted.
The Committee chairman, Oke, who also administered an oath to the National Coordinator, also said that the Committee would look at the documents submitted, adding that the funds might not have passed through appropriation by the parliament.