By Chijioke Okoronkwo
The immediate past Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment Maryam Uwais on Tuesday in Abuja appealed to the media to focus more on the positive outcomes of the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIPs).
She urged the media to positively project NSIPs in their analysis and appraisal of the various components of the social intervention programme of the President Muhammad Buhari administration instead of focusing mainly on the negative outcomes.
Justice Bibiye, Communications Consultant, National Social Investment Office, in a statement, said Uwais addressed a Capacity Building workshop on Communication in Public and Media Engagement for communication Officers of the National Home -Grown School Feeding Team.
Uwais said the appeal had become imperative in view of the fact that reporting only bad outcomes could discourage funding and the continuation of a laudable programme that was addressing many needs in the rural economy.
She said that the programme was currently making impacting significantly on the educational, agricultural and empowerment sectors in favour of poor and most vulnerable citizens.
Uwais 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 programmes.
She lamented the situation where some media reports about the scheme either focused more on the negatives or promote falsehood that misled 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.”
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.
She said that the National Economic Summit Group, working with Accenture, conducted some impact evaluation studies on the School feeding program and has reported that the children were more diligent and more attentive in class because they now ate 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,” she said.
While admitting that the programme had encountered a number of challenges that bordered on sharp practices by some State officials and coordinators in a few states, Uwais said the programme managers had since put in place measures to address the problem and ensure that all stakeholders worked 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.