The Kogi State Office of Social Investment Program (SIP) on Wednesday refuted the report from a section of the media that ”pupils were fed with rotten fish and stale bread” in schools under its Home Grown School Feeding Program (HGSFP) in the state.
Mr Ahmed Bachido, Public Relations Officer, Office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Multilateral, Donor Agencies and Special Projects, and SIP Focal Person in Kogi, told newsmen in Lokoja that the reported story was false and untrue.
”There was never a time any pupil in any school was fed with either rotten fish nor stale bread because adequate measures and monitoring are being carried out to forestall such anomalies.
”The safety of our pupils is important to us, hence the proper attention and monitoring that the office has put in place to ensure that pupils are fed with quality good food at all times.
”The pilot phase of the program was test run in February 2019, and the food menu was carefully followed by all the caterers and the food served to the pupils were perfectly in order as directed and monitored.
”The Head of Unit of HGSFP in Kogi State, Hajia Khadijat Karibo has been very effective in her official engagements to ensuring that adequate arrangement and preliminaries were put in place for effective implementation of HGSFP in the state,” Bachido said.
He added that they had organised several seminars and sensitization for the Caterers, Food Vendors, Heads of Primary Schools, Store Keepers and other critical stakeholders, to ensure strict adherence to terms and condition of HGSFP operations.
”We have also put adequate measures in place to ensure proper sanction for any caterer, aggregator or vendor, who default the process,” he said.
He explained that the processes involved in getting the Caterers for the programme were duly followed, saying the caterers who met the required qualification were made to get a health report from Government owned hospitals to verify their health and hygiene status.
”The HGSFP in Kogi State is effectively running and we are doing everything possible to makesure that the lay down guidelines for its operations is strictly followed by all stakeholders involved in the process.
”The Kogi SIP Office is focused, committed and transparent in it bids to achieving the good ideals of all the programmes inline with the aim and objective of the national office”.
He further said that the allegation of illegally deducting fund from caterers’ account was also a misrepresentation of the fact of the matter.
According to him, a well-documented agreement was made between caterers and food vendors, where the caterers authorised the bank to debit their accounts for all payment due to their respective food vendors who supply the food inputs.
”The caterers unanimously agreed and signed an agreement document to that effect. So, the report on ”illegal deduction of fund from caterers accounts by banks”, was farther from the truth.
He added that official letter to the national body of SIP detailing the agreement the caterers had with the aggregators was duly signed by His Excellency, Alh. Yahaya Bello, the Executive Governor of Kogi State and submitted by former Focal Person, Hon Adoga Ibrahim.
He reiterated that the new Focal Person for Kogi SIP, Hon Abdulkareem Onyekehi Suleiman, and all the heads of units under SIP, were focused and committed to consolidate on the huge successes recorded in Kogi State since its inception.
”Kogi SIP is focused and committed to actualising the ideals of the program through some striking achievements in critical components of the Programme.
He noted that 850 caterers had been engaged while additional 1500 caterers would be added soon.
”A total of 12,964 unemployed graduates, engaged in both Batch A and B, are currently benefiting from the N-Power Programme in Kogi.
”62,559 pupils captured from 447 schools are currently benefitting from the HGSFP, while 11,513 are benefiting from the Conditional Cash Transfer in the state.
”A total of 4,192 market women are currently benefitting from the Marketmoni segment of the SIP.
”We are focused and determined to widening the horizon of the programme to accommodating more beneficiaries with a view to creating employment and empowerment opportunities.,
”Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development as palliative measure to alleviate poverty and also motivating pupils to go to schools as designed by the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari under the supervision of the Vice President’s Office.
”The HGSFP in Kogi is working assiduously in line with the defined template of the programme to improving children’s enrolment of primary school in Nigeria and also motivating the pupils to go to school.
”We will continue to vigorously pursue the good ideals of the programmes as conceived by the Buhari APC-led administration and with the total support of Governor Yahaya Bello’s led Government in Kogi State,” he said.