It is no new news that the present APC led Federal Government has been known for its jumbo cum ginormous promises throughout its campaign period in 2014/2015 and after its inception as the Government at the center, it has been continually showcasing its “Big Mouthing Identity”. Anyway, it is always a comic relief to us all when we hear its officials come to feed us all with one fictitious explanation on any of their gigantic promises. Our Vice President is not an exemption in this case. In many fora, Osibanjo has always created a time to narrate the fictitious benefits that the Citizens of our dear Country will derive from one of their promises which is the Feeding of the Pupils in Public Primary Schools while Adamu Adamu, the Minister For Agriculture keep mute and continue watching. His narratives revolves centrally round the sole aim of Diversifying the Economy and Boosting of Agriculture since the price of Crude Oil is not reliable as it is on a decline state. His words ” this particular programme will create employment opportunities for our teeming Youths who will be involved in the cooking and delivery of the set meals for the pupils, stimulates local production of food, reduce malnutrition among our children, encourage dropouts to go back to school, reduce the rate of hunger in the land, reduce rate of criminal activities, encourage the consumption of the farm produce thereby making more Nigerians go into Agriculture/Farming, the list go on and on. Wow, it was always a brilliant talk-show anchored by VP Osibanjo. But the Vice President easily forgot that the same benefits were posited in September 2005 when Ex-President Obasenjo attempted to launch same programme. Then, it wasn’t even a programme that was totally and singlehandedly funded and managed by FG alone rather, it was in collaboration with NEPAD,WFP and UNICEF which about 12States complied with, yet today it is history. The Federal Government and participating states struggled to sustain the first phase of the very prearranged phases of the programme between 2005-2010 and that was the end of it. Well, since the Party has a good rapport with the Ex-President for sometime now, the truth is not far from it that the he must have sold this failed project to them as this was one of his campaign promises in preparation for the 2003 election which led him to victory. Indeed, it is not a surprise to us.
However, after taking ample time to peruse the various versions of the manifesto of APC through which the APC rode to the seat of power at the center, I realised that it was conspicuous that the School Feeding Programme was ubiquitous in all among many other ginormous Campaign Promises. Then I asked myself rhetorically, truly truly did those who prepared the party’s manifesto really consider Scale of Preference of the Problems of Nigeria nor the feasibility of those enlisted Campaign Promises before putting up for the Public and even holding unto them till now even though they denied some. The truth be told, the possibility of implementing this Campaign programme is far from being successful because the economic situation of the Nations does not seem to guarantee such likewise the attitude of the Government towards it in recent time. This is so because Officials of the present Government have confirmed in various occasions that the Country is broke. So where will they get billions of Naira to fund this gigantic Programme when this is only one of the many gigantic programme that they are expected to implement within the period of 4years and 2years out of it is almost over. In case of any doubt about this submission, lets analyse this Programme mathematically. If it is assumed that in a least situation, there are about 50 Public Primary Schools with about 50 Pupils each in a State with the least Statistics and a meal that cost atleast 500naira for each Pupil, mathematically we have thus;
Each School —> 500 x 50 = 25,000
50 Schools in a State(least situation)—> 25,000 x 50 = 1,250,000
36 States(A Day) —> 1,250,000 x 36 = 45,000,000
36States(A Week) —> 45,000,000 x 5 = 225,000,000
36 States (A Month) —> 225,000,000 x 4 = 900,000,000
Assumed number of Staffs that will be involved in cooking and service Delivery
Each State —> 5000 x 36 = 180,000
Minimum Pay —> 18,500 x 180,000 = 3,330,000,000
Total —> 900,000,000 + 3,330,000,000 = 4,230,000,000 Naira.
If we decide to go by what VP Osibanjo said that over 20million pupils will benefit from this programme, then we can simply multiply the cost of the meal for each pupil by the total number(20m) inorder to get to know the total cost of running such programme at this trying time of our Country. That is; if
@500 naira per meal 500 x 20,000,000 = 1tr
@400 naira per meal 400 x 20,000,000 = 8B
@300 naira per meal 300 x 20,000,000 = 6B
@200 naira per meal 200 x 20,000,000 = 4B
@100 naira per meal 100 x 20,000,000 = 2B
That is, in the first and second instances, the Federal Government is expected to spend atleast about 4.3Billion Naira or 2B,4B,6B,8B or 1tr every month depending on the quality of food that will be given, if I am not mistaken, for just the daily single meal for the Wretched Branded Pupils in a least situation(N/B Least Situation) without putting the respective Palliatives in place as per having acquired hectatres of land in each of the States where almost all needed raw materials are cultivated and harvested for the set Purpose etc not to talk of the Sustainable Framework for this gargantuan programme. If not so, where will the Agricultural produces be gotten from to prepare the meals? Will they rely on buying buying buying from the markets? Or Will they contract UAC to do that for them? What have been the various Palliatives on ground? Also, lets not forget the various challenges that the Federal and State Governments are facing in taking care of those Nigerians that are in the IDPs such as diversion of food stuffs, funds and other materials which has led to the starvation of those vulnerable citizens to death as confirmed and reported by BBC and CNN days ago. That is a tip of the iceberg compared to what will happen if this failed programme kicks off.
Nevertheless, it should be well noted that the choice of our innocent Children to be used for a social experiment on diversification of the economy since our major source of revenue has been on a serious decline is very wrong, hence the need to reconsider the stance as per the “Scale of Preference” in analysing the various problems and corresponding Solutions, as feeding is one of the least problems of Nigeria now. Although, it is well known to all that “Education is the Key to Success”, but it is unfair to the children who subscribe to this school of thought by attending Public School at the mercy of the available resources, be branded “Wretched” by the Government who cannot provide them with the basic amenities. It is totally not right and unacceptable. So it behoves on the APC led Federal Government to go back to their drawing board and then do the needful after tendering an unreserved apology to those innocent children that they have made their parents poor because of the none-payment of their respective salaries and pensions for months, before it is too late. They should be adviced to to seek the consent of His Excellency, Senator Godswill Akpabio on how to rather channel the billions of naira that they would waste on this failed programme to An InterMinisterial Direct Labour Programme that would see to the Rebuilding of all Public Primary Schools that are in a poor condition by way of renovating the dilapidated ones and erecting of new Structures with well furnished Facilities, Retrain the Teachers and Recruit more, increase the Minimum wage to correspond with the Skyrocketed cost of living that occur as a result of poor State of Economy and increased Fuel Price, pay full Salaries and Pensions promptly, reconstruct all Federal Road Insfrastructures that are in a poor state and construct new ones that open remote areas, Fix the Power Sector to guarantee steady power supply etc. His Excellency did it successfully in Akwa Ibom State and he can help them do it Nationwide. With this done, all the much touted benefits would be guaranteed else the dream continues.
Moreover, in narrowing my submission to the implications surrounding the much touted Promise of Feeding the School Pupils in Public Primary Schools, I could obviously decipher that the first impression that the programme portends to the world is that, the Concern Pupils are tagged as “Very Poor Wretched Children” whose Parents are surmised to be unable to care for them as per giving them at least a square meal per day, hence the adopted need by the Government of the Day to take up the responsibility. The stigma that follows this impression is unimaginable because those children are now being addressed as “Wretched Children of the Wretched Parents”. That is, 3rd/4th/Last Class Citizens of their own Country. This is outrightly not acceptable. For instance, I was surprised when I went to my GrandMa’s village to visit her and as I was chatting with her, a teenager came in to meet her in order to seek for permission to fetch water from her borehole at about 9:00am. After she was given the go ahead, I stood up and approached her to ask why she was not in school on a tuesday that is one of the School’s days, she replied, “I will not go to Primary School again oo, I want to go to Nursery School”. I asked why, she said “my friends in the Nursery School always laugh at few of us that go to the Primary School and they don’t even play with us because they say that we are poor and wretched people and that we don’t know anything because we don’t have Aunty and Uncles to teach us in school like them instead Mmas and Sirs”. Tears flew down my eyes and I said to myself, what a stigma and trauma at this age! I had no option other than to go meet with her parents to ask what the problem really was aside the girl’s merciful reasons and her parent explained; ” we are owed gratuity and pension for 6years, hence the reason we told her to go to the Primary School since the fees is not that much as compared to the Nursery aschools but now that she said she’s not going again because of her reasons couple with our reasons too, we can’t do anything but to wait until when the Government pay us our debt”. That is how I decided to sponsor the innocent girl through her Nursery School with my meager salary. Truly, this is not good for our innocent children and Parents at this point in time. But come to think of it, if the APC led Government had known this much as per the intense poverty and hunger in the land, could the best solution to this problem be feeding the pupils when their parents who are Federal Government Wokers or pensioners are left without pay for months/years, some with half payments and others are left with no job/work? Could Feeding be the solution to the atrocious and dehumanising condition of the Public Primary Schools where the assumed wretched pupils so far have been receiving teachings under totally dilapidated buildings as record has it that over 70% of the total primary school structures all over the country are in a very sorry state? Could Feeding be the solution to the inadequate number of well trained and retrained teachers per school that would guarantee effective and efficient inculcation of knowledge in the Pupils? Could Feeding be the solution to the poor Federal Road Infrastructures that have caused series of accidents which most pupils more often than not are involved as some loose their lives? Could Feeding be the Solution to transportation problem of the Pupils as there are no available School Buses to convey them; to and fro? To me, the answers are No!No!No!!
However, a truly concern citizen of this country of ours would prefer to take much time to advise the Ruling party that the time for campaign has long gone. The time to say “I will or shall do” is long over but the time of “am doing this or that” is here which in all ramifications, there is no clearcut instance that indicates that the APC led Federal Government does know this at this point in time that our nation needs a clearcut policy direction in all sectors. There is no essence of continuing to talk about a promise that you made before election, almost two years in office without showcasing any blueprint that will go a long way enlightening the poor masses of the feasibility of the set Programme couple with the readiness to actualise it. One thing for sure that the APC led Federal Government should note is that, most Nigerians are tired of still hearing of those promises but want to hear that they are done even if they are half done. It should be done on the APC that the time to show working is here as the end of the Four Years tenure is around the corner because it is obvious that some of the hailers have now turned to wailers all in the name of being disappointed in the so much talk with less or no action in all areas except the lopsided fight against corruption that holds no water and the arm-twisting of the Judiciary and Legislative Arms of Government just to give room for dictatorship and Tyranny. APC should wake up to reality and tell Nigerians the truth, nothing but the truth.