Questions on FG spending on feeding Pupils
By Dele Sobowale
“We are committed to providing job creation opportunities for five hundred thousand teachers….5.5 million children are to be provided with nutritious meals through our school feeding programme…” President Buhari, May 29, 2015.
Last week, some newspapers published what Alhaji Lai Mohammed would call “fake news” but which economists, being mostly quantitative in their thinking, would dismiss as deliberate and misleading use of statistics laden with half-truths and untruths. The source of the report was the Presidency – Osinbajo’s half of it. The author, as usual, was Mr Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the Acting President.
According to Akande, the Federal Government paid N6.2 billion to 14 states during the school year ending this month for feeding 2,827,691 students out of the three million targeted for this year. In case you don’t know what the game is all about, let me tell you. Mr Akande and the FG want to be able to claim 94 per cent compliance which nobody else can verify.
A teacher from Anambra sent me a message claiming that no kids in any school in her Local Government received any free food from anybody. Furthermore, she called her friends in other schools outside the LG and none is aware of free food being provided. But, we are getting ahead of the story. Later, readers would see from analysis of the figures released, the massive deception involved in the figures released.
The benefiting states were “Anambra, Enugu, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Ebonyi, Zamfara, Delta, Abia, Benue, Plateau, Bauchi, Taraba and Kaduna.” Naturally Mr Akande reeled out figures for each state which are either deliberately or inadvertently designed to confuse readers but which I have reduced to the tables below. It is only when the figures are placed in tables that the glaring injustices and deliberate lies begin to emerge. Remember as you read that Mr Akande was asked more than six times to provide the list of schools benefiting for verification without response. So what has been released can be classified as just a rumour.
From Table 1, it is easy to deduce the following: Osun and Ogun States each collected more funds from the FG than the North West and the South South put together – with change to spare. Can this be attributed to the fact that the Acting President and Mr Akande come from those states? And how on earth did the Niger Delta receive the lowest funding when the zone is the national bread basket? Wait for more.
The South West collected nearly half of the entire amount and approximately eleven times what the South South received. Where is the justice in this? Despite the obvious inequity, Delta reportedly fed 142,000 kids while Osun fed marginally more, 151,000 while collecting 4.4 times more money. Is there any standard for performance of the states? Is there an average cost against which claims by states are measured or not? The ratio comes to N1.6 per kid in Delta but an astonishing N6.6 in Osun. Why?
The figures presented rapidly become totally ridiculous when Kaduna is placed side by side with Osun. To start with, Kaduna which supposedly collected only N500 million or 8 per cent of the funds nevertheless fed 836,000 kids or 29.6 per cent of the kids. The state also employed 29 per cent of all the cooks engaged in this programme nationwide.
Given that a large percentage of kids in the state attend private schools, it must be regarded as the tenth wonder of the world how Kaduna was able to find almost a million children in its schools and to feed them kids at N0.59 when Osun gets away with N6.6 or eleven times the rate per child in Kaduna. Obviously somebody is lying and cheating. And perhaps all are lying and cheating.
Furthermore, a recent trip to Southern Kaduna and messages from Zonkwa, Kafanchan and Kwoi, as well as parts of Zaria, indicates that not all the state schools are served free food everyday. That again leaves the question: how on earth did Kaduna get 836,000 children to feed? The reader can now return to the third paragraph.
It is now clear why Kaduna figures had to be exaggerated. Without them, Mr Akande would not be able to claim 94 per cent achievement instead of 56 per cent based on Buhari’s promise. With them, he has demonstrated how unreliable his figures are. At any rate he has not been able to substantiate anything he reports. Who can possibly believe him? Wait for the rest.
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