The delay in the release of feeding grants to second cycle schools in the three northern regions dominated all concerns the chiefs in the Upper East Region put before President John Mahama during his recent campaign tour of that region. However, the President patently ignored to comment on the issue but had time to address other concerns the chiefs raised.
The issue about the delay in the release of feeding grants first came when President Mahama paid a courtesy call on the Bolgatanga Traditional Council on his arrival in the region on Sunday November 21. Knowing the troubles their children go through in school, the chiefs, through Naba Johnson Awuni Azebire, chief of Yorogo and acting President of the Bolgatanga Traditional Council for and on behalf of his colleagues said they were disturbed about the protracted delay in the release of feeding grants to second cycle schools, a situation that is still keeping some students at home.
He said the driving force of agriculture is education. Naba Azebire stated; “If we will really get into agriculture and do it well, a good number of people should benefit from education. So we will plead further that the SHS feeding grants be released in the right time so that our children don’t come back home.”
The chiefs on Wednesday reiterated their appeal at the National forum on the transformation of the Northern ecological zone, where the president was present. Paramount Chief of the Bongo Traditional Area, Naba Lemyarum Baba Salifu, who doubles as the Vice President of the Upper East Regional House of chiefs, called for the development and implementation of a strategic policy to address the situation.
But all these did not get the attention of the president during his response to the generality of concerns raised by the chiefs. In all the separate occasions, President Mahama patently did not comment on the concerns on feeding grants responded to all other issues the chiefs raised.
His refusal to address the concerns of the chiefs has angered BONABOTO, a union of Frafra people from Bolgatanga, Nabdam, Bongo and Tongo. Stanley Abopaam, the Public Relations Officer of BONABOTO said; “On two occasions, he cleverly dodged to respond to these concerns. When our revered chiefs met him at the Bolga Traditional Council, this issue was raised. He answered all other questions but dodged this particular one; the feeding grants. Then today, when the Yorogo Nanba was speaking for and on behalf of the chiefs of the Savannah Ecological Zone area, spoke about this issue. All other questions that were asked, the president noted them down and responded. But again for this particular one, the president again blatantly refused. What that means is that the president will not pay and parents of the north should braise themselves properly to pay realistic fees. He is scrapping feeding grant. That is the impression I have. His Excellency the president intends to scrap it from what I see. The president can’t forget in two occasions. It’s deliberate.
Mr. Abopam regretted that having benefited from the feeding grants during his days, President Mahama has shown no regard for the concerns of the chiefs whose children, grandchildren and relations are suffering from the brunt in the delay in releasing the grants.
Feeding grants issue is a major headache to parents and heads of second cycle institutions in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions which were the main beneficiaries of the educational package which was started in the era of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana. For three consecutive terms, the grants have not been released to schools and feeding the students has become extremely difficult to heads of schools who were so much indebted to food providers.
Source: TopNewsGhana.com/William Nlanjerbor JALULAH