Over 7 Million Children Across 22 States Benefit From Buhari’s School Feeding Programme, Says Osinbajo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), has disclosed that over 7 million primary school children in 22 states currently benefit from the school feeding programme.
Osinbajo stated this during a special session of the National Economic Council (NEC) focused on Human Capital Development, which held on Thursday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The special session, which included officials of federal and state governments, was also attended by Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Chairman of the Dangote Foundation, and Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The NEC is composed of all state governors and the CBN Governor under the chairmanship of the Vice President.
Osinbajo, in his speech said the Social Investment Programmes (SIP), which are a key component of the administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), have made significant strides nationwide because of the administration’s political will and vision to make the needed investments, for today and the future.
His words: “Let me reiterate that not only are we painfully aware of the issues we are prepared to take the challenges you have outlined head-on. Nigeria has strong economic growth and development ambitions, encapsulated in our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, which we launched in 2017.
“All of those lofty ambitions can only be achieved through the determined application of human skill and effort. And for that effort to be meaningful and productive it has to come from people who are healthy, educated, and who are and feel empowered.
“It is this realisation that has helped ensure that one of the primary planks of the ERGP is ‘Investing in our people’. And it is for this reason that we are expanding the reach and quality of our healthcare, through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS); and working to guarantee basic education for all persons, whilst also upgrading and modernising the quality of secondary and post-secondary education.
“In 2016 we launched a Social Investment Programme – comprising a jobs scheme for unemployed graduates, a feeding programme for public primary school pupils, a micro-credit scheme for small businesses, and a cash transfer scheme for our poorest and most vulnerable households. This Social Investment Programme, a key component of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, and the most ambitious in Nigeria’s history, aims to ensure that no one is left behind; that Nigeria’s wealth is more equitably distributed to its vulnerable populations: young and old, male and female, regardless of where in the country they live or what language they speak. ”
Further highlighting the successes recorded, Prof. Osinbajo said, “The school feeding programme currently serves over 7 million school children, across 22 of Nigeria’s 36 states, and continues to grow as more States sign up for it. Apart from the health outcomes – children free from malnutrition and stunting – there are also important educational and economic benefits as well. By guaranteeing one hot meal a day to these children the scheme has pushed school enrolment rates upwards in many of the communities in which it is being implemented.
“Our cash transfer programme, which we’re delivering with the support of the World Bank, makes it imperative for beneficiaries to fulfil certain conditions relating to health or education, before they can receive their monthly stipends. These conditions range from mandatory ante-natal care for pregnant women, to mandatory immunisations for nursing mothers, to minimum school attendance rates for parents of school-age children.
“N-Power, as the jobs-for-graduates component of the Social Investment Programme is known, deploys young Nigerians to work as health and teaching assistants, bringing healthcare and education to more people across the country. We have 200,000 young Nigerians already engaged, and this year we intend to scale that up to 500,000. But the more importantly we are leveraging on the creativity and innovation of our young people.”
While describing Gates and Dangote as committed and valued philanthropic and development partners, the Vice President thanked them for “uniquely deploying huge resources and innovation through social enterprise to solving some of the most challenging issues of human development that we face today.”
Dangote noted that human capital was a critical component of Nigeria’s future economic growth.
He said the country has largely achieved growth by extracting natural resources and building on that through physical infrastructure.
He said, “For Nigeria to truly compete globally, we must prioritize investments in the health, education and opportunity of our people alongside other critical areas like infrastructure. Together, these are the inputs that will make Nigeria richer.”