NSIP: C’ River has over 280,000 pupils benefitting from NHGSFP – Minister

Hajiya Sadiya Farouk, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development says over 280,000 pupils in about 1000 schools in Cross River are benefitting from the Federal Government’s National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP).Farouk disclosed this in an interview with journalists on Thursday in  Calabar when a team from her ministry paid a courtesy visit on Gov. Ben Ayade.The visit was to intimate the governor on the federal government’s plan to carry out enumeration of beneficiaries in order to scale up the NHGSFP with the addition of five million pupils nationwide.

Represented by Mr Sunday Okoh, a Deputy Director from the ministry, the minister said although over nine million pupils were already benefiting from NHGSFP nationwide, the federal government had decided to scale it up.According to her, scaling up the programme is essential to boost enrollment into schools as the government is not interested in seeing pupils stay out of school because of poverty.“The NHGSFP is one of the measures of the federal government through the National Social Insurance Programme (NSIP) to boost school enrollment and the economy of the nation.“

The programme is aimed at feeding pupils in primary one to three with one nutritious meal a day to encourage massive enrollment into schools.“Others include the NPower programme, Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).“With over 100,000 cooks employed and more than 100,000 small holder farmers participating in this value chain, the NHGSFP is a serious potential for socio-economic development which needs to be scaled up and sustained nationwide.“

It is important to state that the programme encourages that food  to be used for the programme should be sourced within the states to encourage local farmers to produce more,” the minister said.She added that consultants and monitors from the ministry would collate the data needed for effective planning, after which the number of pupils each state would add to the targeted five million pupils would be known.Earlier, Ayade thanked the minister and her team for the visit while urging  them to be diligent in the enumeration exercise.

Represented by his deputy, Prof. Ivara Esu, the governor cautioned against allowing the programme to be hijacked by people who just wanted to make extra cash for themselves.“This scheme should be seen as a social service, we should look at it that way, so, for those of us who are called to serve in the area of enumeration, do your bests to ensure the programme works effectively in Cross River.“It is important to state that because of this programme, enrollment in our schools have increased, so we must take it seriously as education is the bedrock of any society,” he said.Similarly, Mr Gab Okulaja, Cross River’s Manager of the NHGSFP noted that the expansion of the programme was a welcome development and pledged to provide an enabling environment for the exercise in the state.

Okulaja,  however, appealed for a policy change to accommodate pre-primary school classes that were not part of the programme.“There should be a policy change to accommodate the early child education which the policy left out, since we are embarking on enumeration and expansion, this is an opportunity for the President to direct that this group be captured,” he appealed. (NAN)