Sadiya Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, has said that during last year’s COVID-19 lockdown, her ministry spent over N500 million feeding schoolchildren in two states and Abuja.
However, some information – such as figures and the form of food distributed – that the minister was quoted as providing about the programme last year have been updated.
Ms Farouq was quoted as saying that between May 14 and July 6, 2020, N523,273,800 was expended to feed pupils in Ogun and Lagos states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, at a briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 last August, in response to public scepticism about the transparency of the social intervention programme.
However, an official of her ministry alleged in a court document filed on her behalf at the Federal High Court in Abuja on January 26, 2021 that “the 1st respondent (the minister) spent N535,873,800 on 127,789 households as contrary to N523,273,800 on 124,589 households charged by the applicant.”
In a counter-affidavit he deposed to on behalf of the minister and the government, an official from the ministry’s legal unit, Ahmed Abdullahi, reported that “he was briefed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Home-grown School Feeding Programme, Titilayo Adeyemi.”
The counter-affidavit, published by PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday, was filed in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) lawsuit requesting an order forcing the minister and her ministry to disclose full details of the spending and recipients.
Turns and twists
Mr Abdulahi claimed in the court document that about 5,000 cooks were employed for the 20-day programme in Abuja and the two states, an argument that appears to contradict Ms Farouq’s statement at her August briefing that the pupils were fed with “uncooked food.”
According to the deponent, 1,419 cooks worked in 20 LGAs in Lagos State, 3,577 in 20 LGAs in Ogun State, and 895 in the Federal Capital Territory.
Despite the fact that schools were closed for the entire 20-day distribution period, the official reported that 2,859 schools in the two states and Abuja benefited from the programme.