It has become necessary to make some explanations about the Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programme that was flagged off yesterday by His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom.
This explanation will cover four major issues:
CROWD AT STERLING BANK: The Benue State Office of the Social Investments Programme is aware of the challenges of those trying to access their monies from the Sterling Bank Branch in Makurdi. In response to this, arrangements have been made with micro finance banks at the various local government headquarters to disburse monies to our cooks without having to converge at a single bank.
In addition, ATM cards are being produced for cooks to ease access to their funds anytime monies are credited to their accounts. With the ATM cards, our cooks would not necessarily need to come to Makurdi to withdraw their monies. It is therefore regrettable and unfortunate that some hiccups have led to the present predicament of cooks.
DEDUCTIONS FROM VENDORS’ ACCOUNTS: It is totally misleading and incorrect to insinuate that arbitrary deductions are being made from cooks monies. For the records, the Two Thousand Naira (N2000) being deducted from the monies paid to vendors covers both ATM Cards and payment for cooking utensils acquired through a loan facilitated by the Benue State Government in line with the implementation manual from the Federal Government for the HGSF Programme. One Thousand is being charged by the Bank as a one off payment for ATM card and another One Thousand Naira is for the cooking utensils. This particular deduction will go on for a period of 18 months to cover the cost of the utensils purchased.
As you may be all aware, the HGSF Programme has earmarked Seventy Naira (N70) as cost of feeding a pupil every day and based on the implementation manual from the federal government, nutrients fortified foods like pasta, sachet milk and biscuits are to be given to the pupils twice a week; that is Thursdays and Fridays. To this effect, a total of Eighty-Eight Naira and Four Kobo (N88.04) has been deducted from the National Social Investments Office Abuja and paid to Honeywell Flour Mills, Friesland Campina and Don-Afrique Ventures with whom the Benue State government has entered into an understanding with for the supply of nutrient fortified Pasta, Milk and Biscuits. This N88.04 is deducted from N140 which covers the feeding of a pupil for two days (Thursdays and Fridays).
CONTRACT FOR SUPPLY OF PASTA, SACHET MILK AND BISCUITS: We wish to state in categorical terms that no contract has been awarded to any party chieftain for the supply of these items listed above. Honeywell Flour Mills, Friesland Campina and Don-Afrique Ventures are companies that are well known and have been selected by the Federal Government to supply the items on an aggregated supply template.
PAYMENT TO COOKS: The first tranche of payment that has been done to cooks is for a period of two weeks and not one month as has been erroneously assumed. In fact, this money covers only Ten school days.
In conclusion, we wish to assure the Benue public that the Social Investments Programme in the state is committed to implementing the mandate given to it by the Federal Government, with the support of His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Benue State without blemish. This is a commitment we have made and still hold.
We cannot, in any one’s wildest imagination, connive with any bank or individual to defraud the people that as a government, we have set out to empower.
Utaan Terhide, MNSE
State Focal Person