I do understand that it is a programme of the federal government of Nigeria. Niger state and other states have little choice in accessing such federal interventions. If I am a governor, I will take too. However, citizens of Niger state appeared to have kicked against it for many obvious reasons to be mentioned here. And they made excellent suggestions especially by one Peter Kolo as to what areas require intervention.
As flawed as the process of implementation of the Home Grown Feeding Programme is, we cannot afford to condemn the intention behind the programme in its entirety. Perhaps, we should seek the re-channeling of the funds air marked for it to furnishing our classrooms. State governments should renovate schools as counterpart intervention while the huge money for feeding by the federal government be given to them to put chairs and tables in classrooms just like in ETF or Tetfund. This is more productive and meaningful.
On the evening of my first post on the issue, a volunteer from Wushishi sent in about forty nine (49) pictures of the ruination that my Alma Mata has become: GTC Wushishi.
In fact, it motivated this piece, now. More so, I promised him that I shall do a piece. I shall not be the only one to bear the shame of the neglect of the school that made us. I shall post some of the pictures here so that my Seniors who have influence in government, past and present, can share the shame with me. Alh. Sani Basket (Gov. Lolo’s uncle), Prof. Kuta (of Gov. Talba’s era), Hon. Isah Kawu (of Gov. Kure’s time), Ndalile Mokwa (chief of Mokwa), Barr Mahmud Gawu (SAN), Sir Benson Fayam (of NNPC), Statistician General of Niger state, Ambassador Nmadu, Senior Zubairu Tswachi, Mr. Paul Mamman, Hon. Danladi Ndayebo and the rest of us, see your school at the end of this piece. Governor Lolo, see GTC, Wushishi in ruins…
I want to urge the governor of Niger state along with that of Kaduna and others who have experimented and suspended the home grown feeding programme to lead a delegation to the federal government for a change of priority from feeding to furnishing classrooms. People have condemned the programme for the following reasons:
There abound many risks outsourcing feeding of pupils to strangers in an era of ritual killings, baby factories, communicable diseases, poor sanitation and fraudulent social practices in an increasingly uncertain society. Mass death must be avoided. However, if government insist on feeding the pupils, let schools do it and hold her responsible for any unforeseen or foreseen eventuality. God forbid.
Corruption is still unsolvable in Nigeria. From the preliminary complaints of food vendors, it looks like something awkward had happened already. Crediting and de-crediting of accounts is sounding funny already. Knowing my country, I assure you, it’s going to get messier. The schools are yet to start complaining. They will.
Before now, not meaningful teaching is going on in our public primary schools, so, this feeding palaver is now the ultimate distraction for both teachers and pupils from the paralytic teaching of nonsense to feeding frenzy of sharks on sardine in the deep ocean. Kaduna teachers are here too.
Actually, the problems of the Home Grown Feeding Programme are numerous. But let’s stop at these and focus on areas needing serious interventions in our primary and secondary school education.
Text books in our public primary schools are simply absent. Who is even talking about libraries? So, an intervention in these areas should be more worthwhile than feeding. If government wants to feed the Nigerian child, especially in Northern Nigeria, it should give the food to the almajiri boys on the streets of Arewa. Those ones are the real problems, and government has REFUSED to tackle it.
Niger state government should abolish free education programme. Having tested it for years, It has not worked. In fact, it caused the collapse of Hill-Top Model School, Minna. Even if it’s one thousand naira, let students pay to the school management. Government should do a statistics of school children and cause each school to produce annual priority projects for which the fees will service.
The school renovation programme of the Niger state government is highly commendable. However, it looks like the programme has slowed down. We must be ruthless in tackling education problems, it is the only thing the poor can pick and become functional in the society.
Let me draw our attention to the fact that, of the total number of students being churned out by our secondary schools annually, less than 30% of then gain admission into tertiary schools. About 70% are pumped back into the streets of the state doing what you and I should guess correctly. And whose children are they? The poor. Where do the problem start from? Poor primary school education.