By Frederick V. Kanneh
Youyi Building, Freetown, -The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) has received a comprehensive data that comprised full details of all section chiefs from the Council of Western Area Tribal Heads (CWATH) at its Youyi Building office in Freetown.
Addressing the Tribal Heads, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Tamba John Sylvanus Lamina, said his Ministry has always strived to maintain a cordial relationship with Tribal Heads by way of giving them its unwavering support . He said the Ministry views them as important entity and a medium through which it would reach to the different tribes in the Western Area.
Minister Lamina told the tribal heads that the Ministry of Local Government has a broader constitutional mandate, which was why he had earlier requested for a comprehensive data for all sub chiefs in the Western Area which will enable his Ministry to be in the capacity to know who is responsible for which locality.
He recalled that there had been situations where two section chiefs have claimed supremacy over one locality, and that it had led to conflicts in the locality with the tendency of undermining the peace and stability of the country.
“We also requested for this data in order to bring sanity and transparency in the process, so we want to know the process you follow in selecting sub-chiefs and how they are relieved off their duties because these are possible stages where conflict arise in most communities,” he said.
The Minister reiterating the government’s commitment to making sure that chieftaincy in Sierra Leone has the dignity and respect it deserves, which he explained is the reason government has included them on the payroll.
He appealed for the Tribal Heads to see reasons to support the Government agenda in the Free Quality Education by reporting those that undermine same to the Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) responsible.
The Minister pointed out that his ministry’s expectation of the Tribal Heads is to help maintain peace and stability in their localities, but to also cascade Government’s policies to their respective tribes.
He reiterated that key among the visions of President Bio is development and stability, adding that the New Direction Government will never forget in a hurry the role that CWATD played during the era of the Commission of Inquiry (COI).
“ I am delighted to tell you that as a Government, we still have in mind the patriotic role that you played during the proceedings of the COI. You held several meetings with your tribes’ men and explained to them the extent to which the commission was free from witch-hunt and politics. You even went further to tell them that the COI was all about accountability. This is why our Government considers you as development partners thereby holding you in high esteem,” he said.
In his response, the Kono Tribal Head for the Western Area, who doubles as the Vice Chairman of CWATH, Chief S.O.Gbekeh, stated that the reason his members delayed to present the data of their sub-chiefs was because they had wanted to do due diligence to same by providing all information needed by the Ministry.
He assured the Minister of their unflinching cooperation, stating that what the President Bio led Government has done for them has surpassed all efforts done by past governments.
“It is pleasing to say that as a chief, I can now boast of taking care of my family at the end of every month with the salary I receive from the Government. Over the years, we pleaded with other Governments to see reason to be given us at least Le 500,000 as salary, but our requests fell on deaf ears. It is only your New Direction Government that has considered our requests, which is why we would always assure you of our support in selling your agenda to our tribes’ men in our communities”, he said.
Chief Gbekeh pleaded with the Ministry to find ways of fostering a working relationship with paramount chiefs and Tribal Heads in the Western Areas, adding that the former should see them as partners with triggering respect and not as rivals and that, in a country where peace and stability is the vision of the president, such action should be discouraged by the authorities.
He also appealed to the Government through the Minister to see the need for addressing their tenure of office in the new constitutional review, and for them to be also represented in the process.
In her statement, the Deputy Minister of MLGRD, Melrose Karminty, expressed the Ministry’s appreciation to the Tribal Heads for honouring the request of presenting data of their sub-chiefs within the Western Area. She said this will guide the Ministry in streamlining its job, adding that she considered it as “a show of commitment to supporting her ministry’s constitutional mandate.”
The Deputy Minister implored the chiefs to continue to trust in the vision of President Bio as his good work has already started yielding dividend, adding that notable amongst the many developmental signs were the Free Quality Education, salaries for chiefs, and 450 tractors which will help boost the agricultural sector in the country.
“The only advice that I will want you all to give to your tribes’ men at your various communities is for them to exercise patience with this Government because amidst this difficult and trying moment in the world, Sierra Leone is still making progress in terms of development. Currently, Sierra Leone is among the few countries in Africa that is recognized for its robust fight against corruption, and couple of weeks ago, we have passed the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Score card which has the likelihood of pumping about 44.4 million dollars in our country. This is why we have requested for this data which will be a road map for reaching your communities in case there is any issue that may have the tendency of disturbing the peace and stability of this nation”, she said.
In his brief address to the tribal heads, the Director of Local Government, Brima Newman Combey, noted with appreciation the drive by tribal heads in collating such sensitive data of sub- chiefs in the Western Area, adding that the data will serve as easy access to sub- chiefs that may be of interest to the Ministry.
” I would want to allay your fears that the ministry is not introducing this system to reduce your powers; it is instead trying to add sanity into the chieftaincy arena in the Western Area,” he said.
All this happened in the full view of the Permanent Secretary of the MLGRD, Thomas B. Lansana and other staff members.
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Frederick V. Kanneh