The Northern Regional School Feeding programme office remains shut eight days after a pro-New Patriotic Party (NPP) group, Burma Camp locked the office.
The group have vowed not to open the office until their grievances are met, a stance that has left school children hungry.
The October 16, shut down was led by Kamil Sulemana who has pointed out that monitoring officers are also doublings as caterers who cook for two or three schools.
The situation, he said compromises the quality of the monitoring and is a clear case of conflict of interest.
He does not understand why the cooking jobs should be shared among a select few when several other women in the party need jobs.
He also pointed out that out of the seven zones in the Northern region, five of the zonal coordinators all come from one ethnic group.
Burma Camp wants some ethnic balance in the allocation of jobs.
“If our issues are not addressed I don’t think that we will open that office”, he told Joy News.
Following the shutdown and petitions from the Burma Camp group to the NPP regional executives and the regional coordinating office of the National School Feeding programme, a meeting was called for talks.
“We explained to them and they realised that we have a case”, he revealed and said he has received assurances that their concerns will be addressed “so that we too we can go and open the office”.
“If our issues are not addressed, I don’t think that we will open that office”, he repeated the group’s vow to Joy News.
Interestingly, the Northern regional School Feeding office shares a boundary with the Regional Minister’s office and a police station.
But the shutdown continues.
Consequently, some newly recruited caterer working under the National School feeding programme in the Sagnerigu District of the Northern Region have abandoned their post.
Children in schools are unable to cope with the lack of food.
“The mother who has been cooking for us does not come again,” Mumuni Yusif a class six pupil of Ibn Tamiya T. I Ahmaddiya school told Joy News’ Northern regional correspondent Hashmin Mohammed.
He told Joy News they have not been fed since school reopened for more than six weeks now.
Headteacher of Malshegu Ahmed Dubni English and Arabic Primary School, Mr. S. S. Hamidu lamented that “whenever we go for break, a majority of the students will run home because of they don’t have any food to eat”.
Also at the heart of the shut down is a stand-off between the Gender and Social Protection Minister Otiko Djaba and the Burma Camp.
The Minister has been accused of favouritism in the sharing of catering jobs, a claim she has rejected.
Bad blood between the Northern Regional Minister, Bugri Naabu, and the Gender and Social Protection Minister is also persisting after a public spat last May.
The NPP Northern regional executives are reportedly divided among Bugri Naabu and the Minister.
Meanwhile, the Northern Regional Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Ibrahim Tanko, however, told Joy News programme The Pulse, they only heard of the shutdown in the media.
He said he was expecting the caterers to file a complaint with the police station but that has not happened.
“Nobody has made a formal report to the police and it is very surprising”, he said.
The PRO rejected suggestions the politics surrounding the shutdown may have discouraged the police from restoring law and order.
“Not at all”, the PRO dismissed adding, “we are police officers and we are working with the law we don’t need anybody to instruct us”.