In this interview monitored by our correspondent, the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, speaks about the modified school feeding programme of the Federal Government which the party described as a scam
The All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government has insisted on going ahead with its modified school feeding programme despite the fact that the schools have been shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What is the position of your party on this issue?
We have always said the whole school feeding programme as being carried out by this administration is a monumental scam. This is a programme which the government and agencies handling it have refused to give adequate accounts about, especially to taxpayers. It should beat anybody’s imagination that pupils are at home, in their parent’s houses, and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Faruq, is telling Nigerians that they are taking over the functions of parents by feeding school pupils right in their parents’ homes. We are also being told that they are spending unbelievable sums of money on this programme.
It beats my imagination that such a thing is happening in the 21st century and no one is saying anything and people are not being held to account for the billions of naira being wasted in the name of this modified school feeding programme. it is unbelievable! It is unfortunate that Nigerians have yet to realise that this regime which rode on the back of propaganda to power is mortgaging not only our generation but generations yet unborn. This regime is taking billions of dollars as loans from all over the world and this is how they are spending. It is quite unfortunate.
Talking about accountability, what is the outcome of the demand placed on the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to avail the public the details of beneficiaries of this gesture?
We have made several requests. We have demanded that they make public details of the budget for this programme because as of the time the 2020 budget was passed, there was no COVID-19 lockdown. We and other concerned members of the Nigerian public have demanded that this regime make public, details of beneficiaries of their Social Investment Programme. We have demanded for the details of beneficiaries of the school feeding programme. Nigerians will like to know those households benefiting from this so called programme and all we are getting are torrents of propaganda laced with unverifiable figures; we want real answers with verifiable facts. We want to be sure that just like the party made promises it has clearly failed to deliver on, Nigerians are not being taken for another ride. When the minister was asked about the school feeding programme recently, all she could mutter was that the Federal Government was providing the funds and that the state governments were driving the process. This is laughable for a regime that has left our educational and health systems in shambles. Everybody is looking helpless while our scarce resources are being frittered away under various guises. For how long will this regime continue to try to deceive Nigerians?
What then is your assessment of this programme when juxtaposed with the number of school children which some estimates put at around 13 million?
It’s a shame. The lie that has been the guiding principle of this regime has always been laid bare by the discordant tunes being sung by ministers and appointees of the regime each time they are to speak about programmes being carried out. There is usually a lack of cohesion in answers given when asked to explain the regime’s actions. I still can’t understand why a President Muhammadu Buhari will believe that such an amount of money is being spent on providing food for pupils who are at home. I do not understand why the National Assembly is not asking the relevant questions about claims that such humongous amount of money is being spent by a ministry on feeding children in their various constituencies without their inputs, I really can’t comprehend. This is really sickening. Like I have said before, the whole school feeding scam is a scheme designed by corrupt leaders of the APC in cahoots with some elements in the Presidency to siphon N13.5bn public funds to finance their wasteful lifestyles.
It is rather unfortunate that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development has chosen to use innocent school children as cover to loot a whooping N679m daily. There can be no bigger crime against our innocent children and long-suffering parents who toil daily in search of a better life in the midst of plenty. The claim that children are being fed at home is clear evidence that corruption is in the DNA of the APC. We shall overcome sooner than later.