Why we can’t monitor school feeding funds, by Reps’ panel
The House of Representatives Committee on Basic Education and Services yesterday lamented its inability to monitor the N93.1 billion provided in this year’s budget for Federal Government’s Home-Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programme.
The reason for this, according to the committee’s chairman, Zakari Mohammed, is the domiciling of the programme in the Presidency, which is beyond the purview of the panel’s oversight.
Mohammed said the office of the Vice President was specifically the programme’s co-ordinating organ and because the subject matter was education-related, it ought to be monitored by the committee.
In an interview with The Guardian, the lawmaker said but for what he considered inappropriate placement of the funds, the committee would have ordinarily showed interest in the allocation by asking necessary questions and following up on the modalities and expenditures.
He said: “It is an issue we have been complaining of for a long time now.
“The school feeding programme is education-related and ought to be implemented by the Federal Ministry of Education and monitored by the appropriate committee of the House, which is Basic Education and Services.
“I don’t understand why it should be domiciled in the office of the Vice President.
“As it is, we don’t oversight it and I don’t have update on it. How then can we say the programme is working or that the money meant for it is being properly used?
“Our desire this coming year is to ensure that the programme is placed at the appropriate organ of government. It is the only way that the National Assembly can carry out periodic checks on it and speak on its viability.”
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had in September 2015 announced plans to launch the programme to provide primary school children with free meals.
The following year, the government set aside the N93.1 billion in the budget for it, dismissing insinuations that states would be burdened by counterpart funding for the programme.
In 2017 budget proposals presented to joint session of the National Assembly penultimate week, President Muhammadu Buhari announced the allocation of N500 billion for special intervention programmes consisting the school-feeding plan.