FEDERAL Government, and not the states, will fund the A-Meal-A-Day programme launched last week, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said.
Mohammed also said when fully operational, 5.5 million school children will benefit from the programme.
The minister dismissed some media reports that some states may not participate in the scheme because there were no funds for it.
He made the assertion in Lagos, yesterday, at the eighth Alhaji Kafaru Tinubu Memorial Ramadan Lecture, with the theme: “Supreme sacrifice and the essence of followership in governance.”
He also said the Federal Government was working diligently toward making life more meaningful for Nigerians through carefully designed projects, noting that a N500 billion Social Intervention Programme has been put in place to help alleviate poverty.
The minister said the huge money earmarked for the intervention programme in the 2016 budget was one of the sacrifices the government had to make in the face of falling revenue.
“This government is making a lot of sacrifices and it is also expecting a lot of sacrifices from the people. The N500 billion Social Intervention Programme which is broken into five parts covers employment of 500, 000 unemployed graduates who will be trained as teachers. It also covers the employment of 100, 000 artisans as well as the One-Meal-A-Day programme for pupils in primary schools.
“The Enterprise Scheme which is targeted at one million market men and women, 460, 000 artisans, 200, 000 agriculture workers is also covered in the programme. It also covers the N5,000 monthly conditional cash transfer to the poor and vulnerable,’’ he said.
But despite FG’s explanation, Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose alleged a plot to drag states into the funding of the school feeding programme.
He insisted that the programme must be done without the proposed 40 per cent counterpart funding from the states, saying: “The Federal Government is already looking for excuse for the impending failure of the programme by asking states to contribute 40 per cent to the scheme.”
The governor, who said the school feeding programme was purely a contract between the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government and Nigerians, asked: “Were the states consulted before the APC made the promise during the presidential campaign? How can you make a promise and win election on the basis of that promise and now expect states to help you to fulfil the promise? That to me is fraud!”
Governor Fayose in a statement issued yesterday by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka said Ekiti State and other states in the country deserved to benefit from the programme without assisting the Federal Government with any 40 per cent counterpart funding.
The governor stated that the APC-led Federal Government should rather blame itself for failing to do proper study the practicability of the scheme before making the promise instead of looking for who to blame for not fulfilling the school feeding promise.