Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says the national home-grown school feeding programme initiated by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari should be run by state governments and only assisted by the federal government.
Obasanjo said this in an interview with Punch, at Iowa, USA, when Akinwumi Adesina, president of African Development Bank (AfDB), won the World Food Prize award.
Asked to rate the feeding scheme, Obasanjo said: “I don’t even know how many states are participating in it. Any programme that has not been covered in at least 50 percent of the country, I don’t know how you will rate it; whether you would rate that as a success or a failure.”
The federal government had said four million children would benefit from the programme.
It also said the programme would create 1.14 million jobs – 290,000 jobs from community caterers, 580,000, jobs from support caterers; and 274,000 for smallholder farmers.
But Obasanjo, who lauded the initiative, said it must have been implemented in at least 50 percent of the country before being considered successful.
“Any programme that will enhance food intake, particularly of the youth, and we help them in their growth, vitality, and in giving them better nutrition, I would regard as a good programme. (As president) I encouraged it,” Obasanjo said.
“It’s not a federal government programme; it shouldn’t be. Any state that wants to go into it must be ready to go into it and any state that goes into it must make it a success, otherwise, it’s not useful.
“If I remember correctly, I think Nasarawa state had a similar programme which was good; Kano state had one which was good. I think one of the states in the south-west also had one. But it was not a federal programme. It was initially a state programme that was encouraged and assisted (by the federal government) as much as possible in the past.
“I went to a mission school and in my third year, we had what they called ‘midday meal,’ which was tremendously appreciated and, I believe, helped because some of the children didn’t even have what they could call one square meal a day.
“The school provided one good meal, which was good for them. And that was only at the school level, not even at the community level. It was not at the city level, not to talk of district level. So, I would say that any state that wants to undertake such a programme should be encouraged.”