Today’s Guardian Newspaper, Sunday 25th November 2018

Today's Guardian Newspaper, Sunday 25th November 2018

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Why 14 million primary school pupils are shut out
Sun, 25 Nov 2018


The Federal Government’s inability to raise the sum of N336b yearly is responsible for the partial implementation of the much-talked about National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), and the reason why over 14 million pupils are being denied the mid-day meals, which the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration promised to carry out if voted into power.

If the school feeding programme were to be fully implemented, it would have benefitted about 24 million primary school pupils from across the country, a development that would also make it the largest school feeding programme on the continent.

For now, even though it employs 97, 000 cooks, engages more than 150, 000 farmers, provides stable market for some farm produce, and facilitates increased income for famers, many insist that as far as what is in operation falls short of what was promised, it still finds a place on the APC government’s long list of unfulfilled campaign promises. With only six months to the end of the first term of the administration, 10 states are yet to benefit from the partial implementation.

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From the initial N336b estimate required to feed 24 million pupils (from Primary 1 to 6) in all public schools, per session, all the government has been able to muster is N651m, which feeds the 9.3 million pupils in 26 states per session.

Programme Manager of the NHGSFP, Mrs. Abimbola Adesanmi, while explaining the inability to fully implement the programme as promised said from the initial computation, the sum of N336b was needed to feed 24 million pupils in Primary 1 to 6, but “starting with Primary 1 to 3 pupils was necessary considering the resources available at the beginning,” adding that despite the ongoing partial implementation, “there are options to scale up the reach of the programme in the future.”

Among other things, the HGSF programme, is part of a N500b funded Social Investment Programme announced by the Muhammadu Buhari administration to tackle poverty and improve the health and education of children and other vulnerable groups.

Its main aim is to provide free school meals with food procured from local smallholder farmers, just as it seeks to strengthen communities across the country by increasing school enrolment and completion; improving child nutrition and health, and strengthening local agricultural economies by providing a school feeding market in which farmers can sell their produce.

On how much was expended on the 9.3 million pupils that are currently benefitting from the scheme in 26 states, she said what is being spent per “session is subject to how many states that have come on board, and how many pupils that are being fed per state. If we feed 9.3 million in a session then we spend N651m for 200 days.”

Speaking on conditions that must be present for the government to be able to feed all primary school pupils she said, “ a team to manage the programme must be constituted and trained cooks must be recruited, medically screened and trained; school enrollment data must be submitted; menu designed; accounts opened with BVN for all cooks; cooks mapped to school, kitted with utensils and aprons with serving plates, and a letter by state government to request for release of funds.”

Adesanmi added that: “As all states are reached and impact evaluations are carried out, necessary scale up would be implemented. Besides state governments were tasked to scale up if able, and Abia, Jigawa and Kaduna states who had done that.”On chances of the remaining 10 states coming on board before the end of this administration’s first term in office, she said, “The remaining 10 states would come up as soon as they have met all the conditions for start up. All of them have teams that have been trained to follow through with the processes on ground. We are ready to assist them as much as we can to fast-track the process.”

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Despite Buhari’s $1bn approval for arms, Soldiers lament obsolete weapons
Sun, 25 Nov 2018

A few months after President Muhammadu Buhari approved $1billion for the purchase of military hardware for the use of the Nigerian Armed Forces, some Nigerian troops have released a video deploring the poor state of their equipment.
In the five-minute video seen on Saturday, a soldier, while lamenting that dozens of troops had died in a recent attack, showed the burnt shells of several tanks and vehicles in the Metele base, which was attacked by the Boko Haram on November 18.

“See the weapons they bring here. These are not working,” he said.

“These are outdated vehicles, they are not working. They just keep them here for formality,” said the soldier.

“Imagine, they are killing us every day. The situation is getting worse.”

This is coming barely four weeks after the Army celebrated on its Twitter account the delivery of high-grade ammunition.

“The Nigerian Army has received a shipment of various ammunition to further enhance its operational capabilities and combat efficiency,” the army tweeted on October 30.

In April 2018, Buhari announced the approval of $1bn for the purchase of military hardware.

Buhari also in April approved the withdrawal $462 million from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) for the procurement of 12 Super Tucano aircraft for the army from the United States.

However, the soldiers said despite huge resources released by the government, the Nigeria military only supplies them with obsolete weapons, “that can’t stand any good fight with Boko Haram.”

They were heard saying in the video that their commanders are using them to “make money” by deploying war tanks that have outlived their usefulness.

The Soldiers had in June protested being redeployed to a battlefront in the remote Lake Chad region after fighting Boko Haram jihadists for years without relief.

The release of the five-minute video underscores growing desperation among Nigerian troops.

The recent attack on the troops claimed several lives, while the Army did not release the number of casualties, reports have it that at least 44 soldiers were killed among whom was a lieutenant colonel.

Although the Nigerian Army and the president reacted to the killing five days after the attack, the army is, however, yet to speak on this video by the soldiers.

The military has, however, said in the past that it was committed to the welfare of its soldiers and was doing its best to provide the best weapons for them.

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Day Anglican priests lay siege to Anambra Government House
Sun, 25 Nov 2018
In the last few weeks, the Church had been telling anybody that cares to listen how the state has been divided into denominations, with one of the orthodox churches enjoying undue favour over the others, apparently because the headship of government is its member.
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For peace to reign, government must respect extant laws ‘ Ezike
Sun, 25 Nov 2018
Under then Governor Peter Obi, the state government enacted a law, which led to the return of schools originally owned and managed by churches and missions to the original owners.
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Kanekalon says ‘thank you to distributors, partners and stylists
Sun, 25 Nov 2018
What better way to show appreciation to the Nigerian Hair Industry than to host a one of its kind thank-you event for partners, distributors and hair stylists. That was exactly the case when Japanese synthetic hair company, Kanekalon, hosted a very robust number of guests at its 2018 Arigato Stylists Event following the footstep of []
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