E-feeding: Our new normal By Femi Adeoti

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By FEMI ADEOTI

Lawlessness is law in Nigeria. It is the vogue and the fad. It is our
way of life; an eerie culture of sort. We have become obsessed with
it. Our weird asset and we flaunt it with reckless impunity.
We are well grounded in idiocy and absurdity. That is our queer area
of core competence. It is the new craze; our new normal. We are
completely out of tune with the rest of the world.
These rulers of our time are smarter by half. Imagine the awkward manner they reason! They
label it school feeding. But they lie as usual. We are convinced it is
a huge goof. That is why we call it e-feeding.
Exactly what it is. It is nothing but fake, deceit of unimagined
magnitude. We are encouraged not to allow them to take us for a rough
ride this time around. It is a resolve.
What else would you want to call this malady? Zoom feeding, of course!
It could be nothing but virtual feeding. That is perhaps the only
reason you lavishly expended N523million to “zoom feed” school
children in the comfort of their homes effortlessly.
You cannot beat our leaders. They are too much even for themselves. Do
you know how it feels to be e-fed? Ask the lucky kid beneficiaries in
Lagos, Ogun states and Abuja. They have super stories to tell.
That wonderful virtual feeding experience still lingers on. It sticks
and sinks into their memories for life. They are forever grateful to
their benefactor Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management
and Social Development, Sadiya Farouk. She was so magnanimous.
The feeding programme is lousy and noisy in every department and
laughable. It is actually called “Take Home Rations.” In her wisdom,
it is a COVID-19 palliative. She insisted the programme was modified
before implementation in the three choice areas.
Farouk was on top of her game that Monday, August 3, 2020. She
was glaringly in one of her best forms. And she elaborately displayed
it without looking back. She cared less whose ox was gored or bruised.
She was ready for the battle ahead. She adequately prepared for her
so-called detractors and critics. She was armed to the teeth with her
facts and figures. Confident and comfortable, she rolled out the
statistics effortlessly.
Wonder how? This is how Farouk computed and arrived at
N523.3million: “In the FCT, 29,609 households were impacted, 37,589
homes in Lagos and 60,391 in Ogun, making a total of 124,589 families
affected between May 14 and July 6. If 124,589 households received
Take Home Rations valued at N4,200, the amount will be N523,273,800.”
She was not done yet. Convinced that her doubters were not convinced,
she took pains to go extra mile. She searched desperately through the
books, citing the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Central
Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as authorities.
She jumped for exceeding joy when she came out with these findings:
“According to statistics from the NBS and the CBN, a typical household
in Nigeria has five to six members in its household, with three to
four dependents. So, each household is assumed to have three
children.”
Her background information: “Based on the original design of the Home
Grown School Feeding Programme, long before it was domiciled in the
ministry, every child on the programme receives a meal a day. The meal
costs N70 per child.”
By her calculation and reasoning: “When you take 20 school days per
month, it means a child eats food worth N1,400 per month. Three
children would then eat food worth N4,200 per month, and that was how
we arrived at the cost of the Take Home Ration.”
Farouk confessed the idea was never hers. She was, however, lucky and
proud to be its implementer-in-chief: “It was a joint resolution of
the ministry and the state governments to give out take home rations.
The stakeholders also resolved that we would start with the FCT, Lagos
and Ogun states, as pilot cases.
“The agreement was that the Federal Government would provide the
funding while the states would implement it. To ensure transparency in
the process, we partnered with the World Food Programme (WFP) as
technical partners. TrackaNG monitored and gave daily updates
validating the programme.”
Unknown to Farouk, she stirred up the hornets’ nest with her action
and inaction. She failed woefully to shut down her critics. In fact,
they were encouraged to come after her more ferociously.
They could not be swayed that the whole arrangement was not a
beautiful sham. Too sweet to be taken seriously. It was stranger than
fiction.
What was the level of success of the feeding scheme when the children
were in school? But COVID-19 changed all that. The pandemic made it
extremely easier for Farouk and her cohorts to virtual feed kids in
124,589 households.
What is more, these households were scattered in Lagos, Ogun states
and Abuja. Her team was able to feed such huge number of children
hitch-free. They did it perfectly between May 14 and July 6. That feat
could only be made possible by e-feeding the rave of the moment.
But parents in Ogun State took serious exceptions to Farouk’s claims.
Kazeem Babarinde’s son is a Primary One pupil at Owiwi Primary School,
Obada, Ewekoro Local Government. He admitted his son got the ration.
He saw its content as ridiculous, scandalous and insulting: “A small
quantity of uncooked rice, beans, sachets of palm oil and vegetable
oil as well as 12 pieces of eggs,” courtesy Daily Sun.
Waliat Okenla is another parent. Her Primary Two daughter never
benefited from the COVID-19 ration. She was not happy at that.
Akibu Adeyemi, whose child is a Primary One pupil at the St. Andrew’s
Primary School, Omida, Abeokuta, had a sweeter experience. He was
grateful to Farouk for the “rich” take home ration. He wondered why
the distribution should be a one-off thing.
Iredara Okeoye could not fathom how the minister arrived at 60,000
beneficiary pupils. She claimed there were scores of parents in her
child’s school and its environs who were not aware of the take home
ration. She wanted the scheme probed.
There is nothing you would not hear or see in this country. There is
virtually nothing impossible here. These are the oddities being thrown
up by the COVID-19 pandemic. That is the rot we have come to as a
nation, and we are being forced to come to terms with it.
That is why we need a bailout from this unsettling new normal of ours.
It is urgent and important.

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