President Bio is to appoint a resident minister for Freetown

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 September 2020:

Vice President Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh (Photo above), who is currently acting as President of Sierra Leone in the absence of President Julius Maada Bio whose whereabouts still remain a mystery – after three weeks absence from the country,  yesterday Monday, told ministers and local councils to work harder to achieve the performance benchmarks set by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on devolution.

Speaking at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Inter Ministerial Committee (MMC) meeting, held at the Bintumani Conference in Aberdeen, Freetown, Dr Jalloh said that the purpose of the meeting was to review the ongoing decentralization process and adopt the road map elaborated by the ministry of local government and rural development.

The process, he said, started in 2004 with the establishment of democratically elected councils; followed by the need to build both human and financial capacity of the councils which, despite immense efforts has been marred by problems.

In the last two and half years, he said, government has provided funding for the decentralization process and taken bold steps towards devolution.

He called on stakeholders attending the meeting – Ministers, deputy Ministers, professional heads and local council representatives, to continue to work hard to ensure the viability of local councils.

Key decisions were taken at the meeting to move the decentralization process forward.

There are reports the government is making plans to appoint a Resident Minister for Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, which has for several decades been the responsibility of the elected Mayor.

According to report in the Global Times (a leading SLPP newspaper), this plan “is part of the recommendations in the draft National Decentralization Policy elaborated by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.”

Global Times report says that:  “The issue of the creation of a new Resident Ministry for the Western Area and additional new districts in the country was raised and discussed yesterday at the Inter-Ministerial Committee Meeting on Decentralization held at the Bintumani Hotel in Freetown.

“The idea to create a Resident Ministry in the Western Region and new additional administrative units such as districts, chiefdoms and wards received overwhelming endorsement from the members of the Inter-Ministerial Committee.

“The Hon. Vice President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh who is the Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee re-echoed the importance of creating new administrative units as part of the overall strategy of Governments around the world to accelerate development and the construction of necessary infrastructure in the rural areas.

“VP Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh further underlined the New Direction Government’s commitment to support the decentralization process to ensure the financial viability of councils and build the requisite capacity to undertake devolved functions. Supporting decentralization is one of the key manifesto commitments made by His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio during the 2018 election campaign.”

But critics of the government say that the appointment of a Resident Minister for Freetown is nothing but another job creation scheme for SLPP party patrons waiting for their own share of the loot.

They accuse the government of wasting public funds to line the pockets of party lackies, thus rendering the city council Mayor redundant, while going cap in hand to international donors for handouts.

Unlike other districts or cities across the country, Freetown has got on well without a minister in charge of the capital. So why try to fix what is not broken?

Why add another layer of bureaucracy on top of an already complex political structure that is managing the affairs of the capital Freetown, that can only lead to confusion and chaos?

It is a known fact that the elected Mayor of Freetown – Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr is at loggerheads with the Minister for Local Government, over the Mayor’s plans to introduce a new council rates system that could see higher valued properties paying increased rates in the capital.

Is the appointment of a Resident Minister for Freetown aimed at usurping and effectively sacking the elected Mayor?

The government’s wage bill which accounts for over 40% of its total expenditure is cause for serious concern.  Increasing the number of appointed ministers only supports the accusation levied at the government of self-serving, incompetent, and profligate.

14 Comments

  1. Folks always enjoy writing long essays to articulate their grievances against government ineptitude. Simply reject what this government plans to do. In a nutshell, there is no wisdom to “impose” a minister with a belly to fill, over the elected Mayor of Freetown! It is a glaringly blatant duplicity of functions, with a view to create jobs where there is no work, other than room for theft and graft. Why not try farming instead?!

  2. It is really deplorable to have a government whose main objective is to spread its tentacles of power rather than creating the necessary framework in which economic development will flourish and improve the livelihoods of the people. Thinking of an SLPP government nowadays is like visualising a green configuration of amateurish IMPOSTERS overhanging a land of underutilized potentials. Within this mesh of superficial green cloud, there is an artificially ingrained supposedly economic thinkers whom it appears acquired their academic credentials through the back door, and consequently became redundant in executing the entails of their discipline.

    In the end, these cartel of opportunists have no other options but to position themselves as arrogant pretenders over an innocent and gullible society. They talk about decentralization – which in basic terms is the process of transferring administrative authority from a centralised standpoint to a localised government. Though on the contrary, after consulting their theoretical toolkit and discover the inherent curtailment of their sphere of influence over strategic areas, the tendency is to revert to recentralization in a disguised form.

    When a government is ‘elected’ to manage the affairs of a struggling economy, what is the rationale in duplicating the activities of an enthusiastic, competent and flamboyant Mayor of Freetown? Are these power freaks bent on wasting the meagre resources of the country in an effort to transform an intensely red metropolis to a backward green village? The Mayor of Freetown, Madam Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, has nothing to fear. The residents of Freetown elected her with the knowledge that she is encrusted with the modern way of thinking – the APC. She was not appointed by a bandwagon of fake elites whose common goal is to derail her confidence and strides to transform this historic and strategic city for the betterment of its people.

    • Hi Alimamy Turay. I admire your stance to oppose anything that this government does irrespective of the merits and demerits and/or historical facts. You are a true Tolongbo. Wan sekeh. But while you and I are true Tolongbo, do you know that it was in 2009 that the seat of local government for the rural Western Area was moved from Freetown to Waterloo. At that time we were promised (I mean indigenes of western Rural area, that the western Rural area would be crowned a district with a district officer and all the posts that come with it). Let it be known that the Rural western area which comprises of towns like Waterloo, Newton, Grafton, Bathurst, Leicester Regent, Tombo etc has a population over 550,000 which is more than Karene, Falaba and Koinadugu districts combined. Yet in 2015, the western rural district project was abandoned and the Falaba and Karene Districts were created. My question is why are we only becoming aware of this political change now when the process of weakening the powers of the mayors started in 2009? Wan gbinkakuroo!

    • Fil Bothi, your insight is guite acknowledged. Think for a moment and ask yourself various questions, including: what is the motive of the sudden interest in the partition of the Western Rural District, instead of creating a local government, as was promised in 2009? Is the government’s proposed action ingenious to the future development of this area, or just another economic waste that is intended to benefit the SLPP party and ceeate further loopholes for resource drainage?

      O’langba, sekeh. Toepeh an derr’a? The population of London is more than the whole population of Sierra Leone; but London is run by one man – the Mayor of London, Sidiq Khan. What is wrong with our capacity to handle complex and sophisticated responsibilities? Is our thinking faculty inferior to those in the West? Why can’t we move away from the orientation of the ‘little man’s way’ of thinking to an attitude that encompasses the sustainable development of the country as a whole?

      O’kaiba, Sierra Leone is less than a third of the size of Guinea. It is not worth to be divided into 16 districts, as the present case is. This tiny and rich country can be amalgamated into 10 efficiently run districts. Forget about the unnecessary chiefdoms – it is just another way of creating divisions. Irrespective of the demographics of each district, divide it into 10 chiefdoms. This will give a total of 100 chiefdoms or constituencies. Build a superb road network that will interlink all the districts – these roads will also act as trade routes and integration channels. Problem solved for the COHESION of this tiny country.

  3. Adewale John – “Fanday, you do sound a bit muddled and confused, if you dont mind me saying so. Is Freetown not part of the Western Area proposed by your inept government to have a Resident Minister in charge?”. Adewale John, I don’t mind you calling me whatever name if that is the only way you know to debate. Who am I to change your style of engaging with one another on important national issues? “your inept government”! As per your post above, am I to believe that you are not part of Sierra Leone. Because the current government is our government and it will remain so until 2023.

    You do not know me and so you do not know my political leaning. But as a Sierra Leone, I accept the government elected by the majority. Do I support all their policies? Definitely no. That is the beauty of democracy but I will not disenfranchise myself because I do not like the President or his government. To answer your question above, Freetown is part of the western area. Makeni, Kenema, Bo and Kono are part of the wider regions. These cities have had Resident Ministers for their wider regions and Mayor for the cities since the reintroduction of local government in 2002.

    The question is, have the resident Ministers in these regions usurped the functions of the Majors? The resident Minister is part of the Central Government. The Mayors are part of the local Government. So why would their functions overlap when the majors are not supervised by the Resident Ministers but by the Local Government Ministers? The fact that the western area is defined by some only as Freetown is clouding our understanding and maybe our suspicions. FREETOWN IS NOT THE WESTERN AREA. FREETOWN IS PART OF THE WESTERN AREA. The fact the western area has never had a Resident Minister does not mean it cannot have one now.

    • Thank you for that correction, I hope that your friend will learn your post. The president elected in March 2018 is president for the entire country and being a Sierra Leonean, cannot disassociate him or herself from such a president, whether you voted for him or not.

      Lastly you are right to say or support. Western Area has a resident minister like the three other regional cities namely Bo city for the south, Kenema city for the East and Portloko City for the northwest and Makeni city for the northeast. So whosoever is disturbed by this fact must be ill-motivated. Why were they quiet when former president Koroma formed new districts, instead of improving on the already existing districts, healthcentres and electricity in those existing districts.

  4. Thanks to the Almighty because finally the new direction government has come up with the best plan to transform Freetown from a one giant slum to a thriving middle class city. For the past decades, the previous Krio Mayors and the current Mayor Mrs.Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr have always had their hands tied behind their backs based on the fact that they don’t want to annihilate their CORE APC Voters and supporters in enforcing the laws.

    Even collecting taxes is a big problem, that’s why the FCC cannot even afford to pay their workers basic monthly salaries. There are more traders in the streets of Freetown than customers, and even the roads that are designed for automobiles have been occupied by traders and Okada Riders. Places like Lumley , Hill Station, Wilberforce to name but few areas which used to be the resident of middle and upper class have been ruined by all class of people living in “ Pan Body Houses” which eventually depreciated the value of properties in those neighborhoods.

    The beaches for tourists were even occupied by squatters but thankfully the current Lands Minister has done a fantastic job in cleaning the mess. Downtown Freetown is full of beggars that migrated from areas susceptible to river blindness to occupy the corridors of our government buildings and even Statehouse, they also destroyed the potential of their children that supposed to take advantage of the Free quality education by using them as helpers or as child laborers to travel around the city .

    • Why do you have to point out that the mayors of Freetown are of Krio decent? This sort of divisive language is what has bought our country all the ills we have today. Not everyone in Sierra Leone has the privilege of education. Why can’t you use your education to make meaningful contribution on how to develop our country? I mean in tbis day and age, you are helping to fan the flames of tribalism in our country. We will never ever develop Mr Fallay as long as we have people like you that are able to intellectutally argue your case, but ignore the realities of why our country is starved of development.

      Now here is a list of krio people I think should be of interest to you that helped steer our country where it is today. Saika Stevens, Sam Bockarie, Foday Sankoh, Momoh, Agustine, Issa Seasay, Jonny Paul Koroma. General Zizzag, Rambo. Even if you have the Pope as the Mayor of Freetown, and is starved of funding by this Bio dictatorship, because from your posting you share the same discriminatory impulses of hate towards Krio people, it will make no difference in the lives of people in Freetown.

      Now lets be real. Stop this tribal differences that has brought us nothing but hardship and war. May God bless Sierra-leone

  5. Who ever came up with the idea of resident minister for Freetown, must be on something. There is an elected Mayor of Freetown by popular vote. Now as head of Freetown city council, Mayor Yvonne Aki – Sawyer has extensive powers to improve the lives of Freetonians. And her record speaks for itself. What would be the role of this resident minister? And who is he answerable to? – the president, parliament, or the residents of Freetown? What type of powers will be given to him?

    More importantly what would he be doing to improve the lives of the citizens of Freetown? After all, they entrusted their vote to their Mayor, who given the right funding is more than capable of delivering on her promises. This power grab mentally that this president is not shy of using when it suits his agenda, is setting a dangerous precedent. Given where we are, with the COVID19 pandemic, and the economic impact on the lives of ordinary people, its high time this Bio government start to set their priorities right.

    Ditch the idea, support the present Mayor, by giving her the powers to raise the funds she needs to run the city council. The city is in desperate need of building flood defences. Clearing the gutters and the drainage systems, rebuilding the Freetown Fire service, help small and medium size businesses with much needed funds to rebuild after the lock down. Create parking spaces to reduce the cost of traffic chaos and gridlock in the financial centre. COTTON TREE AND PZ comes to mind . And more importantly, pedestranisation of our tiny roads, where foot traffic and Poda Poda, Okeke drivers compete for space. Extend a hand of help to the market women. Because they are the engine of growth in any economy.

    • Sir, I strongly wonder why you people would want to question the government’s decision to have a resident minister for the western area including greater Freetown and the western area rural, like is happening in the other regions? Bo city has a mayor, Kenema city, Makeni and Portloko. All these cities also have Mayors has resident ministers; why haven’t we complained since time immemorial?

      Sycophancy and hypocrisy has been our problem in this country. When the APC is in power anything and everything they do is good and fine in the eyes of their supporters and they will shout with it everywhere so also it is with the SLPP. They are good at criticising each other. If the appointment of a resident minister in the western area was the APC initiative; like the Mamamah Airport, the Toll gate, the increase in the cost of our national passport to one hundred US dollars, the first increase in the cost of fuel price from L3500 per gallon to Le6000 per litre and of course the creation of additional political districts and constituencies, were very good for the now opposition APC.

      Now it is the opposite. So I want admonish the ordinary Sierra Leonean not join in this unending debate. When they are in opposition, they want favour from you to have their way but no sooner they are there, they are different people altogether. They rely on you to get jobs, so please do not be part of it.

  6. Its quite easy to see that this President owes his allegiance to someone or something of a preternatural nature;Yup there’s someone behind the scenes telling him what to do,a Bogey Monster leveraging and frightening him into compliance,tutoring him on how to act,leaving him no other options but to obey.There are a whole lot of men with questionable characteristics that are closely associated with this President,surrounding him like barb-wired fences made of rugged steel.The Chief Minister is one of them.

    Answer – why would anyone leave a well-paying job as a Professor with absolutely no hassles whatsoever to join a masquerade involved in the murky,yucky business of politics? Was it Patriotism and love of country that brought such a man home? Of course not! Folks it was greed, lust for power and an inordinate desire for recognition that turned this man overnight into an opportunist, who would brainwash a vulnerable individual,twist,turn him and steer him like a car towards any selfish destination of his choice.

    Sierra Leone we have a problem! A dejected President has vanished into thin air like a fart in the wind leaving a crippled,struggling nation in the hands of puppets and a cruel Hangman with an economic noose – JJ Saffa who doesn’t give a rats ass if people live or starve to death of hunger. Someone, anyone put a finger on something of immense value that benefits our people since Mr Saffa became Finance Minister of this teeny weeny country of ours? The man has been nothing but an abject miserable failure,yet he still remains stuck like glue on paper in our indispensable Ministry of Finance – no doubt,only this Bogey man knows how long he plans to keep on having a hold on the President

  7. The article is titled Western Area to get a resident Minister. From all the comments posted so far, the contributors have shown that they do not know the jurisdiction in the western area that falls under the purview of FCC mayor. Please guys go back and read your boundary demarcation and you will know that there is a Western Urban and Western Rural. Not every settlement in the western urban is under the jurisdiction of the FCC mayor, and the entire Western Rural is outside her area of control.

    The population of both western urban and rural is twice or in some cases three times the numbers in almost all the provinces in the country. Any yet while cities like Kenema, Bo, Makeni and Kono have Mayors, they all have resident Ministers yet nobody sees anything wrong with it.

    If it is for economic reasons, which is not the case for many who supported when Karene Districts and Falaba districts were created despite the fact that their population of the district’s was not even the fourth highest in the country as per the 2015 census. Decentralisation and realmagation of political areas should be based on population growth.

    • Fanday, you do sound a bit muddled and confused, if you dont mind me saying so. Is Freetown not part of the Western Area proposed by your inept government to have a Resident Minister in charge? Is Freetown not under the jurisdiction of the elected Mayor? So what are you trying to contradict in this story?

      Please stop being a government apologist and speak honestly like an intellectual. The fact of the story is that the government wants to appoint a Resident Minister to take control of Freetown which is part of the Western Area. Correct? Forget the lecture about Western Area comprising of Western Urban and Wester Rural. We all know that; and Freetown – the seat of government is the country’s capital with a populaton of more than one million people.

      What we want to know, is the government’s rationale for wanting to impose a Resident Minister on the people of Freetown without a referendum, if the government is interested in legitimacy in governance. Government by consent is what our constitution guarantees – not PAOPA.

  8. If they appoint a resident minister for the Western Area, we will sack the resident minister and scrap both the office of the resident minister Western Area and the office of the Chief Minister after 2023. Also, the so called ACC will be scrapped and placed under the command of the Sierra Leone Police Force. That is going to happen. Have to! Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyer should not even worry about her position and authority. Even if they mess around with her position and authority with a puppet Bio kakistocracy resident minister, it will be for a brief period. That I can assure everyone.

    With all these reckless policies being implemented by the Bio SLPP kakistocracy, the leadership of the APC should do all it could, to produce the candidate that would send the Bio SLPP kakistocracy to the political wilderness forever. Who cares if the APC makes both a bad political and leadership decision to give Sierra Leoneans the candidate that will beat the next SLPP Bio kakistocracy candidate like a drum come 2023 in the short term?
    Finally, What do you expect from a VP without a constituency? Is the VP eyeing a constituency in the Western Area? No way.

    No one knows this VP politically anywhere in Sierra Leone. He wanted to show his importance in Kono sometime ago when a group of SLPP party hoodlums by assaulting Chief Sam Sumana and his security guards. But that strategy backfired in their eyes real time. God bless Chief Sam Sumana, Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyer and the APC.

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