School Feeding Programme: Group urges cooks to report anyone who threatens to sack them

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By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – Member of State Technical Committee N-SIP Kaduna Mothers for Accountability, (KM4A), Mr. Gamba Williams, has urged cooks in the School Feeding Programme to report anyone who intimidate and threatens to sack them from the programme for whatsoever reason to the authorities.
He stated this during a meeting with Kaduna Home Grown School Feeding Programme Grassroots Movement, (HGMK) leaders from Kaduna North and Central senatorial zones organized by Connecting Gender for Development, (COGEN) in Kaduna on Wednesday.
He said the Cooks need not entertain fear as government has taken measures where henceforth, only they could accessed funds in their accounts to discharge their duties.
Member, State Technical Committee SIP Kaduna Mothers for Accountability, (KM4A), Mr. Gamba Williams, buttressing a point during the meeting.
He affirmed that some spouses of Cooks are reported to have threatened them to hand over their ATM cards for them to access the funds, “probably because most of the husbands see their spouses as illiterates that if he misused the funds she will not even know, or they secured the job for their wives.
“Today, even if a spouse has access to the wife’s ATM card, he can not withdraw the funds because it is done in such a way that the ATM only recognizes the customer whose photograph is on it. That is the step taken by the government,” he explained.
He said that after realizing some mismanagements in the funds, the Technical Committee decided to appoint other banks as it was initially only FCMB Bank , “now banks have been allocated to the three senatorial zones, thus: Zenith Bank for Kaduna North, Kaduna Central, UBA; while the Southern senatorial zone uses First Bank.”
Chairman, School Based Management Committee, (SBMC), Sabon Gari Local Government Area, Alhaji Garba Umar, explaining a point.
Mr. Williams also explained why cooking has not commenced in schools, this he said is because “schools are going on vacation and the government wants to stabilize the issue of ATM, and by resumption, every cook is sure to have funds in her account and ready to be utilized.”
On the way forward especially as COGEN is exiting the programme, Mr Williams, further explained that the KM4A was established for this purpose.  So, “the women coming in are mothers of the children being fed in the community, hence, the issue of under cooking would be looked into as it would now encourage the Cooks to sit up because by the time she comes with insufficient food for the pupils, she’ll face a challenge in the community,” he said.
Speaking in the same vein, Chairman, School Based Management Committee, (SBMC), Sabon Gari Local Government Area, Alhaji Garba Umar, said one way government could effectively tackled the various gaps noticed in the programme is to strengthen the local government Technical Committees across the 23 LGAs.
COGEN’s Head of Programme, Mr. Courage Calah.
He averred that if this could be done, it would go a long way in generating local information and address challenges at the grassroots level whereby if it exceeds their power or limit it can now escalate to the state level.
According to him, from inception “we have been drumming it into the ears of the cooks that nobody except it is transmitted to the state and federal could relieve them of their jobs.
“Even at the grassroots the cooks are still being threatened or intimidated because this is what politicians or husbands tell their wives.  We have instances where a husband told his wife if she refused to give him her ATM card it is at the cost of her marriage to him.  And you know every responsible woman wants to remain married to protect her children; so they give the ATM out unwillingly because they are intimidated.
“But I think the government is addressing this issue, and we in turn will keep on sensitizing the cooks,” he assured.
Earlier, COGEN’s Head of Programme, Mr. Courage Calah, informed that the gathering was to get feedback from the HGMK leaders from the two zones about the happenings in their schools and LGAs and to also update them to continue tracking the programme even as COGEN exits in August 2021.

“The HGMK leaders are more or less COGEN’s sustainability strategy, even as we are exiting the programme we are leaving them behind to continue to track, and monitor on our behalf and then forward reports to the State Government in terms of their findings and challenges on the the field.

A cross section of the leaders at the meeting.

“One particular challenge that always reoccurred is that the structure of the programme is not well laid out and because of this there abound flaws, and political interferences because most of the cooks were enlisted into the programme politically, hence it becomes very difficult to talk to them and make them do the right thing.

“Also, lots of communities do not even want the programme as they feel it was unnecessary, rather such money should be channeled to upgrading the schools and empowering citizens. These are some of the challenges,” Calah said.

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