Publish budget for ‘home feeding programme’, SERAP tells FG

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has asked the Federal Government to publish the total budget for its ‘home feeding programme’.

The feeding programme was designed to cater for schoolchildren, but with the closure of schools nationwide to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, Ms Sadiya Umar-Farouq, had announced that government would start feeding schoolchildren in their homes.

But SERAP, in a Freedom of Information request, asked the FG to publish details of the suppliers and contractors, the procurement rules, including bidding processes, and all designated voucher distribution and collection sites for the implementation of the school feeding programme at home.

Other details requested by the group include information on the number of states to be covered during the COVID-19 crisis, the projected spending per state, details of the mechanisms and logistics that have been put in place to carry out the programme, as well as the role expected to be played by the World Food Programme.

The FoI request signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, read in part, “Publishing the details requested is in the public interest. This would help to address public scepticism regarding the ability of the government to satisfactorily implement the programme, promote openness, and allow Nigerians to track its implementation and to hold suppliers and contractors to account.

“Publishing the details of suppliers and contractors and the procurement rules being implemented for executing the school feeding programme at home would also remove the risks of conflicts of interest and politicisation of the programme, as well as promote transparency and accountability.

“We urge you to also establish online national database for all suppliers and contractors responsible for carrying out the programme to feed school children in their homes, which is expected to cover over three million households in Lagos and Ogun states, and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”

“We would be grateful if the requested information is provided to us within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act to compel you to comply with our request.”

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