National Assembly to raise feeding cost for unity schools’ pupils
Barring any last-minute change, the cost of feeding each student in the 104 unity schools in the country would be increased from N88 to N200 per day. The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Basic Education and Services, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, disclosed this at the weekend.
The lawmaker said the decision was reached at the 2017 budget defence session between his committee and the agencies under its supervision. Mohammed said the planned increase, which had also received the support of the Senate, is to ensure that the students are given decent meals.
He explained that the National Assembly is not obliged to limit itself to the budget ceiling that was provided by the Executive arm of government.
The lawmaker explained: “The power of appropriation lies with the National Assembly that also has the responsibility to even re-write the entire budget.
“We don’t have to be restricted to certain ceilings because we are aware that in some of these budget proposals there are some abuses, which only the National Assembly could correct.”
He stressed that the 2017 appropriation had less frivolities than the controversial 2016 budget proposal, which was why it was poorly implemented. Mohammed said despite the resolve of the National Assembly to pass the 2017 budget early, the life cycle of the 2016 budget must expire before commencing the implementation of the 2017 proposal.
According to him, feeding each student at the unity schools currently costs N88 naira per day. The National Assembly would have reviewed it higher than the proposed N200, but we don’t want to put a strain on the budget.
“As it stands now, N30 is not enough to give them a decent meal, because even the cost of feeding prisoners, which used to be fed N150 per day has been increased to N500.
“If the prisoners could get that, why can’t we increase the students’ allowances? Another area we trying to review is the fencing of the schools which would be moved to the ministry as the executors,” he said.
The lawmaker, who is also a member of the House Committees on Gas, FERMA, Defence and Housing, said the implementation of the capital aspect of the 2016 budget was very poor.
He admitted that the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have also learnt to be careful in ensuring that they don’t fall into the wrong steps of last year. He, however, said it is difficult to have a perfect document, except to reduce abuses to the minimum.