The National Social Investment Office (NSIO) has said it would collaborate with state monitors and anti-corruption agencies to improve monitoring of beneficiaries of its programme across the country.
A statement by the NSIO communication consultant Justice Bibiye, on Tuesday, said former Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment, Maryam Uwais, disclosed this while addressing a capacity-building workshop on communication and media engagement in Abuja.
The disclosure comes days after PREMIUM TIMES published a special report on how some N-Power beneficiaries abscond from duty and abuse their opportunities in three selected states in Kano, Katsina, and Adamawa.
According to the statement, Mrs Uwais admitted some of the challenges the programme has encountered in some states. But she said the programme managers have since put in place measures to address the problems and ensure that all stakeholders work to achieve desired results.
The former presidential adviser, however, appealed to the media to avoid reporting only bad outcomes that could discourage funding and the continuation of “a laudable programme that is addressing many needs in the rural economy.
”The programme is currently making impacting significantly on the educational, agricultural and empowerment sectors in favour of poor and most vulnerable citizens,” she said.
Mrs Uwais also encouraged the media to continue to report nefarious practices, as feedback from the field would ensure an enhancement of the quality and quantity of food served to the children.
The workshop was put together by the National Home-Grown School feeding Programme in partnership with the International Society for Media and Public Health (ISMPH).
The objective is to train communication officers on effective media engagement for more awareness of the benefits of the programme, towards improving public perception and ownership of the Free School Feeding Program by Nigerians.
Below is the full text of the NSIO PRESS RELEASE
SCHOOL FEEDING PROGRAMME: MRS UWAIS TASKS MEDIA PRACTITIONERS ON CONSTRUCTIVE REPORTAGE.
Former Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment Maryam Uwais has appealed to the media to beam its searchlight on the positive outcomes of the National Social Investment Programs in their analysis and appraisal of the various components of the social intervention program of the Buhari Administration, instead of focusing mainly on the negative outcomes.
She said this appeal has become imperative in view of the fact that reporting only bad outcomes could discourage funding and the continuation of a laudable programme that is addressing many needs in the rural economy, noting that the programme is currently making impacting significantly on the educational, agricultural and empowerment sectors in favour of poor and most vulnerable citizens.
Mrs Uwais who made the call in Abuja on Tuesday while addressing a Capacity Building workshop on communication in Public and Media engagement for communication officers of the National Home -Grown School Feeding Team urged the participants to be proactive, circumspect and quick to dispel fake news to ensure that public opinion does not run against a well intended programme of Government.
The former Presidential Advisor on Social Investment who was in charge of the SIPs between 2016 and May 29, 2019 underscored constructive criticisms as crucial to effective planning for better service delivery of the Social safety net programs, lamented the situation where some media reports about the scheme either focus more on the negatives or promote falsehood that mislead members of the public.
“You are Custodians of this project. You must ensure that when these fake stories come out, you put them in context. When they say something bad is happening here, there are enough positive outcomes to also say it is happening positively there”, Mrs Uwais told the Communication Officers.
According to her, the National Home- Grown School Feeding Program is achieving intended results as school enrolment and child nutrition have improved significantly in States where the program is currently being implemented.
“The National Economic Summit Group, working with Accenture, conducted some impact evaluation studies on the School feeding program and has reported that the children are more diligent and more attentive in class because they now eat better.
For many of the children in our government schools, they are happy that good food is available and their parents are encouraged to send their children to attend classes, especially in the remote areas. Recently, a friend of mine and former class mate in Law School confirmed that during the campaigns in the last election, the women in her community commended the current Administration’s programme feeding their children, asking her what the opposition was going to do for the children. She even said one of the women brought out two of her children and showed to her, saying you see how healthy they are, even as sicklers. The classroom teacher calls them out and gives them double ration each day, because nutritious food is available to their children even in their remote community schools”, Mrs Uwais further said.
While admitting that the program has encountered a number of challenges that border on sharp practices by some State officials and coordinators in a few States, Mrs Uwais said the programme managers have since put in place measures to address the problem and ensure that all stakeholders work to achieve desired results.
She added that Collaboration with monitors and anti-corruption agencies has proved productive and would be ramped up, in the coming months. The former Presidential adviser also encouraged the media to continue to report nefarious practices, as feedback from the field would ensure an enhancement of the quality and quantity of food served to the children.
The Workshop was put together by the National Home-Grown School feeding Program in partnership with the International Society for Media and Public Health (ISMPH) to train Communication officers on effective media engagement for more awareness of the benefits of the programme, towards improving public perception and ownership of the Free School Feeding Program by Nigerians.
Several communication experts including renowned broadcaster Moji Makanjuola presented papers at the forum, also attended by some NSIO partners.
National Social Investment Office.
July 16, 2019.