Explainer: The N2.67 Billion Missing School Feeding Funds

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Last month, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission(ICPC) uncovered the sum of N2.67 billion payment meant for school  feeding of 104 unity federal colleges during the lockdown in personal accounts. The Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, revealed this in his keynote address at the 2nd National Summit on Diminishing Corruption with the theme: “Together Against Corruption and Launch of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy,” at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

We observed that transfers to sub-TSA were to prevent disbursement from being monitored. Nevertheless, we discovered payments to some federal colleges for school feeding in the sum of N2.67 billion during lockdown when the children are not in school, and some of the money ended up in personal accounts. We have commenced investigations into these findings.

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq denied misappropriating N2.67 billion meant for feeding school children during the COVID-19 induced lockdown, under the Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) stating both programmes are different.

The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development hereby informs the public that the federal government colleges school feeding in question is different from the Home Grown School Feeding, which is one of its Social Investment Programmes.

That the school feeding under scrutiny is the feeding of students in federal government colleges across the country and is not under FMHDSD which only oversees Home Grown School Feeding for children in primaries 1-3 in select public schools across the country.

That the over N2.5 billion which was reportedly misappropriated by a senior civil servant (name withheld) took place in a different ministry and not the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, has directed a full investigation into the report of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission (ICPC) after principals of the beneficiary schools explained that payments made during the lockdown period had to do with debts owed food vendors even before COVID-19.

In response to queries issued by the Federal Ministry of Education, the Principals explained that payments on meal subsidies to Unity Colleges on the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, (GIFMIS) platform is designed to accommodate individual officers of those colleges who are officially recognized to receive such payments and disburse the same to food vendors. This followed difficulties encountered by farmers, local food vendors, and market women who do not have Tax Identification Numbers (TIN), PENCOM, and other requirements to access the payment platform.

The ministry, in line with the Minister’s directive, is to collaborate effectively with officials of the ICPC to unearth the facts as well as find a lasting solution to the payment system for meal subsidies that will ensure accountability and transparency.

The Government Integrated Financial Management Information System(GIFMIS) was developed by government by agencies to enhance the effectiveness of government financial activities. It is one of the pillars of the National Strategy for Public Service Reform aimed at making the Nigerian Public service world-class anchored on optimum service delivery to the citizenry.