The Kogi State Office of Social Investment Program (SIP) has refuted media reports alleging that it was feeding pupils with rotten fish and stale bread under the Home Grown School Feeding Program (HGSFP).
Mr Ahmed Bachido, spokesman of the SIP office, who spoke on behalf Mr Abdulkareem Suleiman, SIP Focal Person in the state, told newsmen on Wednesday in Lokoja that the report was “totally false”.
“There was never a time any pupil in any school was fed with either rotten fish or stale bread; adequate measures and monitoring are being carried out to forestall such anomalies.
“The safety of our pupils is important to us. Proper monitoring is put in place to ensure that pupils are fed with quality food at all times.
“The pilot phase was test-run in February 2019 and the food menu was carefully followed by all caterers. The food served to the pupils was perfect,” he said.
He said that seminars and sensitization programs were organised for the caterers, food vendors, primary schools’ heads, store keepers and other critical stakeholders, to ensure strict adherence to terms and condition of HGSFP operations.
He added that adequate measures were put in place to ensure proper sanction for defaulting caterers, aggregates and vendors.
“The HGSFP in Kogi is effectively running and we are doing everything possible to make sure that the laid down guidelines for its operations are strictly followed by all stakeholders.
“The Kogi SIP Office is focused, committed and transparent; we shall not compromise standards,” Bachido said.
He also dismissed allegations of illegal deductions from caterers’ accounts, describing the claims as “a gross misrepresentation of facts”.
According to him, a well-documented agreement was made between caterers and food vendors, where the caterers authorized the bank to debit their accounts for all payment due to their respective vendors who supplied food inputs.
He said that 850 caterers have been engaged while additional 1,500 caterers would be engaged soon.
“A total of 62,559 pupils captured from 447 schools are currently benefiting from the HGSFP, while 11,513 people are benefiting from the Conditional Cash Transfer.
“A total of 4,192 market women are currently benefiting from the Marketing segment of the SIP.
“A total of 12,964 unemployed graduates, engaged in both Batch A and B, are currently benefiting from the N-Power Program in Kogi,’’ he explained.
He restated the determination to widen the program to accommodate more beneficiaries so as to create employment and empowerment opportunities.
“The SIP Focal Person in Kogi, Mr Abdulkareem Suleiman, and all the heads of units under SIP, are focused and committed to consolidating on the huge successes recorded in Kogi since the program started,” he declared.