Despite deep tensions, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Madam Otiko Djaba on Monday, August 21, 2017 entered the Northern regional capital, Tamale, where she would be staying for a three day working visit.
This marks her first noticeable entry into the region four months after she was virtually chased out by the party’s regional chairman Daniel Bugri Naabu in a full blown confrontation over supremacy, although, later disclosures revealed the rivalry was because of a political appointment.
She entered into the region to a huge gesture and crowds flooding roadsides in wild jubilation a sight more captivating than a small fold of rushy individuals gathered at the muddy compound of the regional chairman to throw unprovoked diatribes at individuals within the party they failed to intimidate and brought under control.
The minister disregarded the regional chairman again refusing to pay him visit and only announced her presence in the region through courtesy calls on the Regional coordinating council and the two prominent Chiefs in the city, Dakpema and the Gulpke Naa.
At the Dakpema Palace, the minister displayed her disgust for child marriage and described it as “Harram”, an Arabic word meaning anything that is forbidden by Islamic Law and hinted her ministry would tougher on parents who are child marriage law offenders.
According to her records available show the Northern region leading in cases of children marriage in the Northern part of the country and attempted to remind parents to respect Islamic laws.
“You will see a Oldman following her grandchild.. How can you be following your grand child. Isn’t shameful? It is time for us to stop all those things.. Some parents because of poverty allow their children into child prostitution, and if you spend such money isn’t it Harram? If you are poor don’t allow your child into child prostitution because they can die through sexuality transmitted diseases.”
“And lets also stop child labour. Parents don’t have rights anymore to allow their children engage in any kind of work other than being at school due to the FCUBE intervention. If you want to farm, hire an elder man and also try to let the children always be in school”, Madam Otiko lamented in deep emotions.”
On May 5, Bugri Naabu led a fold of highly charged women to a meeting ground at the Radach Conference Center where the minister was chairing a School Feeding program deliberations, and threw the gathering into a disorder.
A chubby Naabu personally engaged in the disruptions breaking water bottles, kicking chairs, flinging and plundering objects in rage in the attack which nearly turned into physical assault before police broke up the siege.
Bugri Naabu in his shifting statements, initially accused the minister of undermining his influence as regional chairman by coming into his territory and holding meetings without his consent but later deserted that charge after failing to find the legal grounds and said without a proof that Madam Otiko was plotting to incite factions against a candidate he had recommended to head the School Feeding program in the region.
Afterwards, a slanging match ensued between both leading figures and for a whole week, they fired disparaging salvos at themselves on radio shows forcing the National Executive Committee, the highest decision making body of the party, to wade in and ensured a fragile ceasefire.
The committee did not publish details of it engagement with Bugri Naabu and the minister and as it modus operandi turned down requests by prying reporters for comments.
Sporadic tensions between the rival supporters broke out after the truce and escalated last month when some regional executives including the Secretary Sule Salifu openly declared support for Bugri and vowed to led a “forcefully protest” against madam Otiko for her alleged attempts to influence the president to reject their choice of the regional coordinator for the School Feeding program.
However, when the minister visited the region a lot of women organizers who derided and accused her of sabotaging the president did not show up including some popular supporters of Bugri Naabu.
Nonetheless, there are other several party members flanking the minister and providing a spectacular escort fanning more anger in the region where internal divisions have beset the ruling party.
The minister Tuesday morning is visiting some victims of the last flood disaster in which lives were lost, the regional house of Chiefs then to a special school in Pong Tamale.
She ends her three day visit to the region at Gambaga witches camp tomorrow and departs to other regions to continue the advocacy.