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Bamenda City Board Grand Councillors refuse to dream big, politicise development options

in City Council News

The 2015 Budgetary session of the Bamenda City Board, which held on Tuesday, the 23rd of December 2014, was unprecedented in more ways than one.

Mr. Nguelle Nguelle Felix, Senior Divisional Officer for Mezam and supervisory authority over Councils in Mezam, in his opening word after that of the Government Delegate to the Bamenda City Council, Mr. Vincent Nji Ndumu, addressed some of the following issues contained in a Memorandum, which had been earlier addressed to him against the Government Delegate by some Councillors of Bamenda II and III:

Being themselves all of the SDF, these Councillors referred to Mr. Ndumu as the CPDM Government Delegate, and accused him of not carrying out development projects in SDF-run Sub Divisional Councils as a ploy to make them lose future elections. They went on repeatedly to insinuate that before Mr. Ndumu became Government Delegate, Bamenda was virtually heaven on earth, and even blamed the generalised disorder in the commercial motorcycle sector on him. They even went as far as ignorantly blaming the Government Delegate for instituting a parallel structure in the City Council to replace the Grand Councillors in Public-Private Partnership (PPP) contracts. According to them, the GD was side-lining them to seek authorisation from higher administrative bodies to carry out his dream projects for Bamenda, not the projects the Councillors think shall give them votes in the next elections. By so doing, the Councillors in question prefer to concentrate on what paves their way to electoral victory rather than looking at the larger picture.

The SDO pointed out clearly that there was nothing like a CPDM, SDF Government Delegate or Mayor, calling on all to work hand in glove for the development of the entire Bamenda City Council area. He went on to remind the Sub Divisional Councils that by law, the Government Delegate is not a statutory member of their deliberative organs, and so is not obliged to attend their Council sessions as they erroneously thought he was supposed to do and had woefully failed to do. However, he advised on dialogue between the GD and the Mayors and lectured on the whole process of PPP, with the GD throwing more light on the government option of funding projects, which are too big for it to fund, through PPP contracts of Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT), a situation that led to the Prime Minister and Head of Government creating a Special Commission for such projects in Bamenda, especially for three modern commodity markets: a new Food Market, a new Nkwen Market, and a City Commercial Centre (Bamenda Main Market). It is worth re-iterating that after the Prime Minister and Head of Government subsequently appointed the President of the said Special Commission, the Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Development appointed his own representative on this Special Commission, and same with the President of the Support Council for the Realisation of Partnership Contracts, CARPA. Only then did the Government Delegate to the Bamenda City Council appoint two members and a secretary, with the approval of the supervisory authority, the SDO for Mezam, and amongst these, an SDF Grand Councillor, appointed after prior notification of the SDF National Chairman, Ni John Fru Ndi.

Furthermore, the SDO wondered how the City Board could have long deliberated on delimiting the movement of commercial motorcycle riders in Bamenda and when this deliberation is not implemented it becomes the making of the GD. He recalled how Mayors themselves openly declared that implementing this deliberation during an election period, that is, in 2013, as the case was to be, was going to cause them to lose votes; and he equally reminded them that he was still waiting on the various Mayors to do their part as earlier prescribed, for the gradual implementation of this Deliberation to begin. It was, therefore, so difficult to perceive why the very politicians are now transferring the blame on someone else. Same with the privatisation of public stand taps, which, as they themselves declare, was done to cut down on the exorbitant CFA 25 million the Council was paying each month for a few taps, which mostly flowed to waste.

The SDO’s final advice was for dialogue to prevail in the planning of development works in Sub Divisional Council areas by the City Council, so as to make for effective follow-up and the strict respect of annual Action Plans. He equally called on the City Council administration to go the extra mile to make sure that there are street lights all over the City as well as other social amenities.

The SDO’s input set the ball rolling for the session; the GD further explaining that prior to the session, he had invited the Grand Councillors, that is, those who had signed the Memorandum, for some frank talk, and they ended up looking at the same direction, determined to work in synergy for the development of the greater Bamenda City Council area. However, to the greatest surprise of City Council administrators, during the discussion of matters arising from the previous minutes, the Grand Councillors started raising the same issues as had been addressed by the SDO. This came at a time when the SDO had been called to other duties and his first deputy was sitting in for him. And so, after pointing it out clearly that the session could not be re-examining these same issues, deliberations went on hitch-free, with the examination and adoption of the reports of the Works and Transport Committee, the Social Welfare Committee and the Finance Committee. This led to the adoption of the 2015 Budget for the Bamenda City Council, which balances in revenue and expenditure at CFA 3,623,563,235 (three billion, six hundred and twenty-three million, five hundred and sixty-three thousand, two hundred and thirty-five).

Against all expectations, the demon of politicking once more reared its ugly head, and the Grand Councillors from Bamenda II and III (all SDF) out-rightly opted for illegality. In committee before the session, some Deliberations had been duly selected as good to be adopted and voted in session, putting two (02) aside; but when the time came for this exercise, the Grand Councillors of Bamenda II and III summarily refused to do so, with no valid reason whatsoever for this abrupt U-turn. The Deliberations in question had to do with re-allocations to incur expenditure, the incorporation of State credit transfer into the 2014 Budget, an authorisation for the local administration to divert transport at the entrance to the City from Up-Station due to some works being carried out within the City, and, most strangely, a deliberation authorising the City Council to initiate twinning ties with a willing South Korean City (a city that had recently signed a cooperation protocol with the City of Bamenda).

When the SDF Member of Parliament for Bamenda and Bali, Hon. Fobi Nchinda, invited the SDF Grand Councillors out for discussion in recess, everyone thought reason was going to prevail thereafter; but alas, upon resumption, the Grand Councillors remained adamant. The question on every lip was: Why adopt all reports and even the 2015 Budget and then refuse to adopt Deliberations? Yet, most of what the Councillors, who had signed the Memorandum, were accusing the GD of, had been so well established to be taken care of in the adopted and voted Budget for 2015.

From every indication, the Grand Councillors came into the session with a prejudice, their leit-motif being that the Government Delegate has not been implementing some Deliberations, and so to “penalise” him, they were not going to adopt any of his deliberations any longer. But then, why accept these Deliberations in committee before the session only to reject same in session? Was this acceptance in committee merely to avoid a deadlock so as to pick up committee allowances?

Unfortunately, the Grand Councillors need to go back to their notes to understand that such a move is not sufficient to paralyse the municipal governance of the Bamenda City Council. However, it was not surprising that immediately after the session, some of these Grand Councillors were already demanding for an extra-ordinary session for the same rejected Deliberations to be re-examined. Of course, the undertone of personal financial benefit here is an open secret, nay, its odour stinks to the high heavens, and the only question left for them to answer is: Who is fooling whom?

Affaire à suivre!!!


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