By Gbade Ogunwale, Abuja
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has said that the school feeding programme embarked upon by the Federal Government is targeted at stealing N13.5 billion from the public till.
In a statement on Wednesday by the spokesman for the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party said embarking on school feeding programme while schools remained shut on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, is a “huge scam”.
The party accused the government of using innocent school children as cover to steal and funnel about N679 million per day to private purses, describing the action as sacrilegious, wicked and completely unpardonable.
The statement said, “While it is clear that the APC-led administration’s school feeding programme had always been a scam, the claims to feed school children even when schools are closed is a colossal racketeering taken too far.
“This goes to further expose that stealing and corruption are deeply engrained in the DNA of the APC and its administration.
“While the PDP has nothing against any transparent effort to provide succour to Nigerians, particularly our children, at this critical time, our party rejects the on-going fraud in which school children, who are in their respective homes, bearing the brunt of the failures of the APC administration, are being used as metaphors to divert public funds to a few corrupt individuals in the Buhari Presidency.
“Nigerians are witnesses to how the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Umar Farouq, had always stammered, makes conflicting pronouncements and points to Mr. President’s speech as a cover each time Nigerians demand for details of her humongous spendings.
“The Minister had failed to provide details of how she intends to reach the 9.7 million school children, who are now in their homes in different locations since the closure of schools, even as officials continue to muddle up required documentations in a bid to cover their tracks.
“Nigerians are invited to note how the Minister contradicted herself in claiming that the food would be shared door-to door and in the same breath, averred that vouchers would be allocated at specific collection times to avoid overcrowding.
“Such contradiction only betrays an unwholesome tendency, as Nigerians wonder how there would be overcrowding on door-to-door distribution of food to children who are claimed to have been individually designated in various locations”.
The PDP recalled that stakeholders in the education sector, including the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) and Concerned Parents and Educators (CPE) had also raised questions over scheme.
The party also recalled how the First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari had faulted the disbursement of the N500 billion Social Investment Programme.
The PDP said it’s worried that the Minister’s constant reference to President Buhari’s speech on the school feeding programme, it is clear that some unscrupulous officials are cashing in on the situation to fleece the nation.
“If these officials indeed mean well for the school children, they should hand over the funds to the ministry of education in the respective states for appropriate dispensation to properly identified and documented vulnerable children”, the PDP said.
The party urged President Buhari to take urgent steps to end “corruption” that has pervaded his administration, particularly the alleged use of innocent Nigerians as cover to steal public funds.