School feeding caterers accuse MMDCEs, NPP chairmen of extortion

General News of Thursday, 1 November 2018

Source: Starrfmonline.com

2018-11-01

File photo

Caterers under the School Feeding Programme in the Northern Region have accused the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and Constituency chairmen of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) of harassing them financially by asking them to commit part of their salaries in support of the party’s development.

According to the caterers, they were asked to commit 10 per cent each of their salaries to support the running of the NPP in the region and that some DCEs are responsible for the collection of the funds.

Angered by the directive, they bemoaned that it is affecting their budgeting. Some of them who spoke to Starr News disclosed that party leaders in the districts now assign surrogates to trail them to the banks to witness their transactions anytime their accounts are credited.

Describing the situation as excruciatingly worrying, they warned that if government failed to intervene, they will be forced to inform international and local donor agencies supporting the programme.

The NPP Constituency chairman for Bimbila Bawa Alidu confirmed the collection to Starr News.

“It is compulsory for them to pay that amount because it is the party that won power and gave them that job so they must pay to help the party grow,” he said.

He also confirmed that the party appointed officers responsible for the collection and that the party will receive special notice of any caterer who would resist or protest the arrangement.

“We say they should get something for us but not 10%, they should help us,” Mr Alidu said.

“At least any amount they can get but not below GH¢200. When the party was not in power they were not given this chance. We are not using force on them but they should reason themselves, and if they refuse to pay them they know the sort of people they are.”

The Regional Coordinator of the programme Madam Felicia said reports about the incident are coming to her from various parts of the region and that the caterers are expressing worry.

According to her, she had told some of them the payment is not mandatory but advised them on the relevance of supporting one’s political party. She also said she would investigate the mode of the collection that is causing the caterers to raise the worries.

“If the caterer decided to pay something to the assembly because of the growth of the party, it’s solely their responsibility but they are not on any mandate to pay monies to them,” she told Starr News.

The DCEs, however, have pushed back the allegation of their involvement and said they have not sanctioned such deal in their districts.

“They are just one of those allegations that people are making, because, for all you know, most of the people who are given this school feeding are the same party people, so if they decide to support the party that is up to them but no DCE that I’m aware of,” the DCE for Sang and Dean of Northern Region MMDCEs, Mohammed Hashim Abdullah told Starr News.

The School Feeding Programme has remained a volatile ground since the NPP took over power. It has suffered multiple controversies triggered by a disgraceful confrontation between the party’s former regional chairman, Bugri Naabu and the then Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection.

The controversies evolved and ended up damaging political fortunes of some leaders who set off the hostile divisions on the programme, like Bugri Naabu, who was humiliated out as chairman of the party in the last internal elections.

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