..as Nasarawa gets global recognition in school feeding programme
Report by Editor
Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State has expressed the willingness of his administration to support the new reforms ongoing under the Federal Government’s school feeding programme, that will see almajirai, children with disabilities, as well as children living in IDP camps, return to school.
Governor Sule made this resolve known when he hosted the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Schools Feeding Programme, Yetunde Adeniji on a familiarisation visit, in Abuja on Friday.
The Governor promised to personally support the initiative that would see to the taking away almajiri off the streets and returning them to formal school.
He specifically commended the SSA for embarking on reforms that would see to the inclusion of the Almajiri, children with disabilities and children living in IDP camps under the school feeding programme.
Governor Sule recalled that he was amongst the first few governors to champion the call for the eradication of the almajiri system particularly across Northern Nigeria, more so that times have changed and the little children allowed to roam the streets would be better off with their parents.
“In fact, at one point, I started appearing on national television to discuss about the almajiri and we worked very hard together with the northern governors and started returning some of the almajiri to their original states, so that we can be able to return them to their parents, so that their parents would have responsibility.
“It used to be in the past and only a few places in Nigeria as a whole and especially in northern Nigeria that we are offering traditional Quranic schools. But today, education is widespread. Every state you go, every major town you visit, you will find people who are learned and can teach these children. The ideal thing is for these children to attend Quranic schools in their home towns from their parents houses. These children need to spend time with their parents,” he stated.
He said he always gets upset whenever he came across minors in tattered clothes roaming the streets barefooted.
“You have really touched an area of great interest to me. If you can pick it, you just tell me how I can be of help and you will find me doing my best there, including my personal support,” he assured.
On the recognition accorded Nasarawa State in Paris, France, on the school feeding programme, Governor Sule said it was not surprising considering that the state was one of the first places where the school feeding programme started.
“I think it was during Abdullahi Adamu’s era that something like that was done in Lafia. We came and discovered a few areas of concern when I came in. Because some people were taking advantage of the school feeding programme and are doing other things they were not supposed to do.
“At one point, I had to work with the Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Welfare to even get rid of some of the people working in Nasarawa State that were doing things not in order,” he added.
The Governor used the opportunity to commend President Bola Tinubu for selecting Yetunde Adeniji as his SSA on School Feeding Programme while also appreciating the Federal Government and all the donor agencies and NGOs, for giving the recognition to Nasarawa State.
Earlier, in her opening remarks, SSA to the President on Schools Feeding Programme. Yetunde Adeniji, disclosed the resolve of President Bola Tinubu to continue with the school feeding programme initiated by the past regime, in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda, where all children in the country would have access to quality meals and they would be taken off the streets.
The SSA said she is in Nasarawa State because the state received recognition at the first global meeting of the School Meals Coalition, in Paris, where Loko Local Government Area received a standing ovation as one of the first local government to embrace the school feeding programme.
She added that under her watch, certain lapses were discovered in the initial programme which saw to the decision of the Tinubu administration to include the almajiri, children with disabilities and children living in IDP camps in the school feeding programme.
“All of those haven’t been captured yet. Under my office, we are coming together with some NGOs and donor agencies to try and see how we can cover that demograph. We have been talking to donor partners and NGOs and they have been on board trying to see how we can feed these cadre with a view to taking them off the streets and bringing them back to the classrooms,” the SSA stated.
Adeniji announced that her office is embarking on a programme where they can start off with 5000 children, before moving to 50, 000 and then 100, 000, geared towards taking these children from wherever they are into classrooms.
“Very soon, we even planning to come to the state to meet up with the stakeholders to see how we can first obtain data on these children and see how we would commence feeding them. We plan to do it for 75 days. After that and with the momentum and feedback, we want to see if we can increase the number of days. It’s in this are that we need your support and partnership,” she said.