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FG denies withholding funds for school feeding programme in four states

By Dennis Erezi
27 December 2019   |   9:21 am
The Nigerian government has denied claims that Nigeria's humanitarian affairs minister Sadiya Umar Farouq has withheld funds for the school feeding in Lagos, Imo, Kogi and Benue states. "It should be noted that the former accounting Ministry, which is the ministry of Budget and National Planning has to put on hold all processes of payments…

The Nigerian government has denied claims that Nigeria’s humanitarian affairs minister Sadiya Umar Farouq has withheld funds for the school feeding in Lagos, Imo, Kogi and Benue states.

“It should be noted that the former accounting Ministry, which is the ministry of Budget and National Planning has to put on hold all processes of payments after the presidential instruction of the movement of the SIP (Social Investment Programme),” President Muhammadu Buhari’s senior special assistant on social investments Ismaeel Ahmed said in a statement.

“Hence, the necessary civil service procedures that needs to be set up in the new ministry and the briefings delayed payments for a bit.”

Ahmed’s comment was in reaction to reports that claimed Farouq had deliberately refused to approve payment for the National Home Grown School Feeding Program for Lagos, Imo, Kogi and Benue states.

But the presidential aide said the delay in funding the feeding programme was procedures from the budget and national planning ministry that was overseeing the programme.

Buhari on Tuesday, October 1 moved the NSIPs to the newly created Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development ministry with the aim of “institutionalising” them.

Prior to this, activities of NSIPs were coordinated by a government Steering Committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo which comprises Finance, Education, Health, Agriculture, Trade and Investment, Youth and Sports, Women Affairs, Labour and Productivity, Information ministers to implement government’s agenda.

Nigeria’s budget and national planning ministry was NSIPs secretariat.

Since the ‘institutionalisation’, the government became inconsistent in funding some of the programmes, including N-Power.

Farouq on Tuesday, December 2 said the delay in payment of two months stipend of N-Power beneficiaries was because “the handover and taking process for these two programmes is still ongoing.”

Ahmed, however, said, “all issues and briefings and procedures has been resolved and payment has continued unhindered.”

The presidential aide said the reality of the programme was “contrary to what some media houses are putting out…”

“Honourable Minister is not acting in any inimical manner toward the Programme. She has cleared all request that have to do with
payments of vendors and stipends that has reached her table,” Ahmed said.

He said the minister and NSIPs remain focused on using the SIPs as an impactful tool in ensuring Buhari’s aim of lifting “100 million Nigerians” out of poverty in 10 years is fulfilled.