Food Vendors Protest Fraud In FG School Feeding Programme
Food vendors engaged by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to anchor her School Feeding programme for Primary schools have protested over fraud in the programme ranging from non-payment of their entitlements and a brazen attempt to shortchange them by some highly placed middlemen.
Under the programme, every selected food vendors is expected to register at one centre to be engaged to provide a meal per day for 150 pupils in Primary One to Primary Three in a public school.
A food vendor who pleaded anonymity confided in our correspondent that they were asked to send in bank details for the direct crediting of their accounts with N250,000 monthly, but that, some powerful forces have stalled the process.
The source said they are being coerced to access only N10,000 from their money while the rest is taken by middlemen who they claimed will be rationing to them, what to feed the children with daily. The women said this fraud is unknown to the federal government and is happening only in Akwa Ibom State where the school feeding programme only recently took off.
The women cutting across the 31 LGAs, came out in hundreds to protest non-payment of their wages by coordinators in the state even when the Federal Government is said to have released funds meant to clear all allowances owed them.
It will be recalled that, a public Affairs commentator, Uduak Ikpat, who earlier raised the alarm, and explained that, handlers of the programme in the state, the Commissioner of Education through the Director of Feeding programme had instructed that, all the vendors should all come to FCMB at Oron Road in Uyo, the state capital for payment of their wages, but on arrival, the bank was locked and they were barred from entering the premises. Head of the protesting vendors while speaking to Mr Ikpat said, after waiting for more 7 hours at the gate of the bank, they were told by one man who said he was representing the state govt that “there’s no money” and that they should return on Monday.
Vendors who spoke with our correspondent decried the situation, arguing that this ugly development was a sure way of derailing the school feeding programme and the laudable objectives of the Federal government in doing this. She called on the EFCC, DSS, police, the governor and other relevant authorities to wade in and investigate the matter before it gets out of hand.