The federal government says it spent more than N500 million to feed pupils during the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country.

This was made known by minister of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, at the presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja on Monday.

Umar-Farouq said it was important to disclose the figure in view of speculations that the federal government might have mismanaged funds approved for the programme.

At the rate of N4,200 per family, and with 124,589 households impacted, a sum of N523,273,800 was spent on the programme.

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“It is critical at this juncture to provide details that will help puncture the tissue of lies being peddled in the public space. The provision of take-home rations, under the modified home grown school feeding programme, was not a sole initiative of the MHADMSD,” she said.

“The ministry, in obeying the presidential directive, went into consultations with state governments through the state governors’ forum, following which it was resolved that take-home rations remained the most viable option for feeding children during the lockdown.

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“So, it was a joint resolution of the ministry and the state governments to give out take-home rations. The stakeholders also resolved that we would start with the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states as pilot cases.

“According to statistics from the NBS and CBN, a typical household in Nigeria has 5.6 to six members in its household, with three to four dependents. So, each household is assumed to have three children,” she said.

“Based on the original design of the home grown school feeding programme, long before it was domiciled in the ministry, every child on the programme receives a meal a day. The meal costs N70 per child.

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“When you take 20 school days per month, it means a child eats food worth N1,400 per month. Three children would then eat food worth N4,200 per month and that was how we arrived at the cost of the ‘take-home ration’.

“The agreement was that the federal government will provide the funding while the states will implement. To ensure transparency in the process, we partnered with the World Food Programme (WFP) as technical partners.”

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