Nigeria: Does The School Feeding Programme Cost The Govt More Than The Education Sector? FALSE

CLAIM: A message by a Whatsapp user claimed that N228 billion had been spent so far on school feeding programme by the Federal Government (FG) as against N109 billion on education within the same period. 

FALSE: It is not true that FG’s spending on school feeding between 2016 and 2018 was more than education budget and spending within the same period.    


A viral Whatsapp message says: “APC School feeding cost Nigeria government 228 billion while education budget is 109billion. You will know the intentions of thieves even from foolish allocations of public resources.” 

But our verification shows that it is a FALSE claim.

To start with, it is important to clarify how much the School feeding Program actually costs. Now, that in itself is a very difficult task as the School Feeding Program is part of a larger project of the Federal Government called the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP). In this factcheck by Dubawa, we discussed how difficult it is to verify claims about the NSIP as there is no credible database that houses full details of the activities of the programme. What we do know from the NSIP Office is that the entire amount appropriated to the NSIP has been N500 billion annually (commencing 2016) for 3 years (making a total of N1.5 trillion) but total releases so far (as at October 2018) amounted to about N307 billion, representing 23.63% of the appropriated sum. There is no breakdown on what each component actually costs, including the School Feeding Programme.

So, the Whatsapp post is very questionable. Even if we decide to extrapolate, it is likely to be FALSE. 

The school-feeding programme started in 2016 and was on till it was suspended early this year (2019). In the first two years of the project – 2016 and 2017 – the Federal Government (FG) claimed that about N49 billion was spent to feed public primary pupils in 24 states.  The Special Adviser to the President on National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) Mrs. Mariam Uwais disclosed this. And, in May 2019, the Cluster Head, National School Feeding Programme, Abimbola Adesanmi revealed that the FG spent N70 per meal to feed over 9.7 million pupils in 53,715 public primary schools in 31 states for 200 days in a year under the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme for the year 2018. She, however, failed to give the exact amount spent on the school feeding programme within the period. 

Therefore, if N70 per meal is multiplied by 9.7million pupils and 200 days targeted yearly, the result is N135.8 billion. If the third year spending of N135.8 billion is added to the N49 billion for the first two years of the project, the total sum spent on school feeding for 2016 to 2018 is about N184.9 billion, which is lower than the N228 billion alleged to have been spent on the programme. Note: This is an extrapolation.

As regards the education budget, in 2016, the FG allocated about N480.3 billion for the education sector, out of which N35.4 billion was for capital project, while recurrent expenditure got N444.8 billion. In 2017, N550 billion was education’s budget with N398.7 billion allotted for recurrent expenditure, N95bn was allocated to the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) while N56.7 billion was for capital project.  In 2018, education sector was allotted N651.2 billion with N548.3 billion allotted for recurrent expenditure while N102.9 billion was for capital expenditure.  This means the Federal Government allocated about N1.68 trillion to the education sector between 2016 and 2018, which is about 7.1 per cent of the N22.5 trillion total national budget sum for 2016 to 2018. 

More information: Expenditure is different from allocation. Capital expenditures are expenses incurred on infrastructures and acquisition of fixed capital assets and recurrent expenditure comprises of personnel and overhead costs, and usually, expenditure is less than the amount initially allocated in the budget. To know more, see this factcheck.

In those same years, N72.71 billion was spent on capital projects in total. In 2016, of the N35.4 billion meant for capital project, ₦22.65 billion was released and fully cash backed (released) while ₦18.61billion was utilised at the end of the fiscal year. In 2017, the sector was allocated N56.7 billion, out of which N33.42billion was released and N31.61 billion utilized as at the end of the fiscal year. In 2018, of the N102.9 billion allocated to the sector, N33.44 billion was released and cash backed while N22.49 billion was utilized as at 31st December. 

What was spent on capital projects is in addition to N426.8 billion for 2016 personnel cost, N376.2 billion for personnel cost in 2017 and N516.8 billion for personnel cost in 2018 [Recurrent expenditure includes personnel and overhead costs; with money allocated for personnel cost (salaries) usually completely spent. Overhead cost is not publicly available. Read this article for more information]. In total, over 1.39 trillion has been spent on the education sector within that period.


From the available statistics on FG’s allocation to the education sector, this claim is FALSE as the School Feeding Program is part of a larger project of the Federal Government called the National Social Investment Programme and the amount earmarked for that particular project is not publicly available. Even if the Whatsapp user obtained private information, the claim would still be FALSE as the total budgetary allocation and expenditure for the education sector between 2016 and 2018 are more than N226 billion.

Therefore, it is not true that FG’s spending on school feeding between 2016 and 2018 was more than education budget and spending within the same period.    

This fact-check was done by a Dubawa Fact-checking Fellow in collaboration with The Guardian, an independent newspaper, established in 1983 for the purpose of presenting balanced coverage of events, and of promoting the best interests of Nigeria.

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