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School feeding issues in Upper East Region: Georgina Ayamba caught in a web of lies?

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The Upper East Regional Coordinator of the School Feeding Programme, Georgina Ayamba says she has not received reports of caterers under the programme failing to provide meals for schoolchildren in the region.

Ms. Ayamaba said this in an interview on Breakfast Today on Dreamz FM in response to claims by the opposition National Democratic Congress in the region.

The NDC in a statement signed by its Regional Communications Director Abdallah Jonathan Salifu claimed caterers under programme have not resumed preparing meals for children at the basic schools since they returned.

This, the NDC said, is attributable to several months of arrears owed the food providers by government.

The party claimed government has failed to honours its financial obligations to some of the caterers for three terms.

While blaming the indebtedness on what it described as government’s incompetence and mismanagement that have put the state in financial difficulty, the NDC said the situation is widespread and could affect school attendance if urgent steps are not taken to address it.

But Ms. Georgina said her outfit has not received any such report.

“As I sit here, I have not gotten any complaint that this particular is not cooking. Maybe, they are yet to go schools that are not cooking. My officers visited Kasena-Nankana Municipal and West District. For instance, we visited Paga yesterday and they were providing hot meals for the children even myself enjoyed the food,” Ms. Georgina told host of the show James Nana Tsiquaye.

She indicated her monitoring of activities in various schools in the region showed that the caterers are at posts, providing meals for the kids.

“When school reopened, I went on monitoring visits. I visited schools in Bolga here on Tuesday and Monday. Other schools too, my zonal coordinators went on monitoring visits. I monitored some schools in Bawku. All the schools that I went, they were cooking”.

She wants the NDC to point out any of such schools where caterers have deserted the kitchens.

Despite the statements of the School Feeding Coordinator for the Region, the Upper East Regional Director for the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Peter Ayinbisa, in a statement issued yesterday, January 24, 2024, confirmed that some schools aren’t being fed but insisted that this was not as widespread as described by the NDC.

“The assertion by the NDC that since the reopening of schools, caterers have not honored their contractual obligations is untrue. Contrary to the NDC’s misleading narrative, our investigations reveal that the majority of caterers under the GSFP are diligently fulfilling their contractual obligations, providing the necessary meals for schoolchildren. The few delays are isolated cases, not widespread, and not as a result of the government’s negligence, as the NDC may have us believe.”

In a further twist on the issue, Peter Ayinbisa continued to stress the point that he was aware that some schools had not been fed. This was when he spoke on the Day Break Upper East Show today, January 25, 2024.

“Yesterday, we set out to respond to the issues raised by the NDC. They brought the matter up, and we had to bring the issues out to see the veracity of it or otherwise. We started checking across the region. In fact, two issues bother us, and one is the fact that since school reopened, feeding has not resumed. Their second concern was the arrears. If you read my concerns to Abdallah, I admitted that the school caterers were owed.”

“Schools reopened on 9th January, and Mark, to be sincere with you, not all schools have their caterers cooking. Not all caterers, as it were, are cooking, even as we speak today,” he said, directly contradicting statements by Ms. Georgina Ayamba.

In a further bizarre turn to the issue, the national Public Relations Officer for the Ghana School Feeding Programme, Siiba Alfa, who again spoke to A1 Radio’s Mark Smith yesterday, admitted that it had come to the attention of officials at the national level, the situation in the Upper East Region.

“The issues have just come to our attention. So we are looking into it. What I can say is that most of these issues [refusal of caterers to cook] bother on payment. Caterers complain that they have no money; we have not been able to pay them, so they are not able to cook, which is true, in some cases. As we speak, we have started making payments to settle the arrears. We understand that when payments are not made, caterers are not able to buy foodstuffs and go to the feeding centers to feed them. We are just appealing to them that they should try and do their best knowing that no matter what, the money would be paid to them.”

It remains to be understood how the National Secretariat of the Ghana School Feeding Programme got wind of the situation in the region when the Upper East Regional Coordinator insists that she has no knowledge of the situation.

Source: A1radioonline.com|101.1MHz|Mark Kwasi Ahumah Smith|Ghana

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