Friday 25 May 2018

School feeding programme: Food vendors are losing money to extortionists in A'Ibom

UYO- Food vendors under the federal government's school feeding programme in Akwa Ibom State have claimed that politicians who got them enlisted in the programme were taking part of the money given to them to cook for the pupils.

These extortionists, it has been gathered are the ones  inciting and sponsoring food vendors to protest against changes made in the programme.

Some of the food vendors who spoke to The Guide newspaper on Monday, May 24, when they convened at Akwa Ibom State secretariat annex, Uyo for a meeting with the State coordinator of the programme, said beyond getting kickbacks, those who nominated them were keeping the debit cards to the accounts which federal government makes payment to them.

"Those who puts us in this programme have been collecting money from us. In my case, the person who included by name is the one handling the ATM card of the account that I receive money to cook for the children".

Another vendor who craved anonymity said she does not know how much enters her account, explained that she was only getting money to cook daily and get paid at the end of the month by the women leader that included her name in the programme.

However, the federal government has engaged suppliers that will take food items to the vendors to cook and feed the  pupils instead of giving the vendors money to buy the food items by themselves.

"The federal government is now making payment to suppliers who provide the food  items to the vendors", Mary Udosen said.

The food vendors in Akwa Ibom have protested this new arrangement and have allegedly petitioned the federal government to stop all payments for the programme.

Some of the vendors accused the food suppliers newly introduced into the programme chain of supplying bad products.

A worker in the office of the focal person for the school feeding programme in the State said, the federal government has not made payment for the programme in Akwa Ibom since the commencement of the current academic term.

He said, a lot of petitions have been written by indigenes of the State calling on the federal government to stop payment for the programme, if the money for the purchase of the food items are no longer paid to the food vendors.

It was gathered that the federal government decided to engage the services of suppliers of food items because the food vendors had earlier protested that the money given for the purchase of food item was not enough.

The federal government applies the same template across the State.

The Guide newspaper gathered that the food vendors were incited by those who included their names in the prgrammme to protest against the change in the running of programme.

The school feeding programme is part of the federal government's social investment polices. It started in Akwa Ibom State in last year. The programme has faced many protests from the vendors, ranging from delay in payment, to the introduction of food item suppliers.

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