Bombali District Council Hall, Makeni City, 30 April, 2021- The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) has held a day retreat for Regional/ Provincial Administrative Staff across Sierra Leone on the theme: “Strengthening Regional/ Provencal Administration for Effective Service Delivery”.
The retreat, which targeted Resident Ministers, Provincial Secretaries, District Officers and Central Chiefdom Administrate Clerks was chaired by the Deputy Minister of MLGRD, Melrose Karminty.
In his keynote address, the Minister of MLGRD, Tamba John Sylvanus Lamina, stated that amongst other objectives, the retreat geared towards having a consensus agreement around areas of Chiefdom Governance, the formation of Provincial Advisory Group, and the issue of timely reporting, accountability and transparency. He added by urging all and sundry to view the retreat as an open space for discussion of pertinent issues bordering around their jobs.
Minister Lamina admitted that there are challenges with the structure of the Ministry, adding that according to the consultants that are currently working on its five-year strategic plan, the Ministry’s structure is no longer fit for purpose and needs a complete overhaul.
“The MLGRD structure lacks coherent, institutional capacity with colonial era elements sitting alongside the first stages of donor-led initiatives, while critical functions such as rural development, strategy and policy have defectively been allowed a very little room to manoeuvre,” he emphasized.
He observed that because of the poor structure of the Ministry and the little or no action that has been taken over the years to address the situation, the challenges have cascaded down to the Councils and regional/ Provincial Administration which in turn have caused a disconnect between the two.
“The five years strategic plan, which I believe will address the structural challenge of the Ministry, is almost completed. Today, we have an open space to discuss and deliberate on issues that face us. We don’t want this retreat to be a platform for mourning, but we want it to be a stage where we would develop tangible outcomes that will be used to address our challenges,” he appealed. .
He furthered that even though there are myriads of challenges faced with all sectors of the Ministry, he pointed out that steps need to be taken to address certain mishaps within the Provincial and Regional Administration. Among other things, he cited the issue of timely reporting of incidences, over bloating of TA lists, unreasonable fines levied by Local Court Chairmen and Paramount Chiefs that request for Cows as requirements for section chieftaincy elections.
He reiterated that the New Direction Government of President Bio has a vision of transforming the local governance system of the country and entreated all Regional and Provincial Staff to come onboard in making that happen.
The Minister of Internal Affairs, David Maurice Panda-Noah, expressed delight to be part of the retreat and assured his Ministry’s commitment to providing security for all activities of local government ministry, including paramount chieftaincy elections, declarations, among others.
He highlighted unresolved issues which he said are undermining peace and stabilities of certain communities, including numerous petition cases, disputes between paramount chiefs and section chiefs, land, bush and boundary disputes, illicit mining, excesses of secret societies, among others.
“As a security sector, we are concerned about these development as we are trying to sustain our hard-won peace,” he stated and called on the MLGRD and all other stakeholders to resolve issues that have the tendency of making communities unstable.
Many other dignitaries, including the Head of Civil Service and Secretary to Cabinet, the Chairman Council of Paramount Chiefs, Resident Ministers and the Permanent Secretary of MLGRD gave meaningful contributions during the retreat. The presentation segment was opened by the Director of Local Government, Brima Newman Combey, who gave an outstanding presentation on Local Governance system in Sierra Leone.
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Frederick V Kanneh