President Bio unveils ten million Euro EU support for decentralisation and improved local service delivery

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 11 July 2020:

President Dr Julius Maada Bio yesterday launched a 10 Million Euro programme in Makeni – northern Sierra Leone, aimed at supporting development projects across the district councils of Bombali, Kenema, Pujehun and Kambia.

Supported by European Union Funding, and in partnership with the government of Sierra Leone, each of the councils will receive 2.5 million Euros.

In particular, the ‘Support to Civil Society and Local Authorities for Local Development’ funding will  be spent on boosting agriculture; develop infrastructure; improve access to electricity, healthcare, education; and promote gender and social protection.

The funding will expand the resource base and institutional capacities of District Councils and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Pujehun, Kenema, Bombali and Kambia,  to help deliver and account for services, bolster linkages and relationships with rural civil societies, and improve the environment for effective decentralisation and local governance.

Responding to this development, the editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph – Mr Abdul Rashid Thomas said: “This is one step forward towards real devolution of powers which must be realised if Sierra Leone is to develop.”

Launching the project, which is part of a 23 million Euro funding contract signed with the EU in 2018, president Bio said: “The Minister has highlighted my Government’s core achievements over the last two years. From over ten years of dwindling funding, my Government has provided more funds and increased salaries and compensation for local government officials. At the same time, we are working on restructuring and expanding the resource base and institutional capacities of local councils so that they can deliver and account for services in a sustainable way.

“I am particularly pleased about the participation of civil society organisations in formulating, planning, and assessing local development initiatives. Beyond the fact that this fosters a unique and strategic partnership, it also enhances proper accountability for development funds.

“So my expectation is that CSOs should insist on being involved in identifying development priorities and be fully involved in the budget formulation, approval, execution, and monitoring process,” he said, adding that the five-year EU and government programme aligned both with his manifesto commitments and the national development priorities.

“Let me also publicly thank the European Union for its collaborative work with the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists on the TRUEtok bot Corona series. It is regularly broadcast over several media and engages young persons and the public on topics around Corona.

“For all the good work you continue to do, thank you, Ambassador Vens. You are helping save lives. Our high recovery rates and the comparatively low death rates from COVID-19 is cause for optimism. It is also testament to the great spirit of collaboration that is engendered in our relationship with the European Union,” he said.

Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, said that the New Direction Government has manifested more commitment in decentralisation than any other government had done, noting that the Bio-led government has significantly increased expenditure on local councils.

Saffa also said that the government has started paying salaries to local council leaders, increased sitting fees to all local councils in the country, and finalising arrangements for the payment of salaries for paramount chiefs and their key staff.

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Tamba Lamina, spoke about the increased level of support the government has given to local councils, saying that it’s a manifestation of President Bio’s commitment to the decentralisation process in the country.

Lamina also stated that the government has commenced the process of developing a strategic plan that would engage local stakeholders and development partners, as he commended the EU for their support to the process.

Head of European Union Delegation in Sierra Leone – Ambassador Tom Vens (Photo above), said that the aim of the ‘Support to Civil Society and Local Authorities for Local Development’ is to support effective decentralisation and efficient service delivery to the citizens, especially in remote areas.

Vens said that the project will contribute to economic growth and social cohesion for the benefit of Sierra Leone. He also acknowledged the President’s strategy and long-term vision in placing decentralisation at the core of the government’s New Direction.

Whiles the project and funding will no doubt move the decentralisation and devolution of powers agenda forward, there is serious need now for a concerted effort to revive the 1991 Constitution Review process which must make provision for devolution of power to local communities across the districts.

Sierra Leone’s economic and social development will continue to stall, as long as resources and powers are controlled by central government.

13 Comments

  1. I think its nice to support our rural area because this is our root. So lets keep fighting the covid19 and support our heritage. God bless Sierra Leone.

  2. Decentralization or not, all we need is a complete resolve to display high degree of honesty from all those in leadership. Our leaders in one way or the other hailed from poor background but once they assume office they forget their ugly history and chase wealthiness at the expense of the poor masses who have equal rights to the wealth of this country anyway. My warning and strong advise to current and future politicians will be to remember the end of their predecessors and take heed of your very misdeeds before God’s wrath falls on all you leaders of mama Salone politicians, civil servants, local government, media, legislative, forces, etc.

    The subject of decentralization is absolutely necessary but fundamentals like basic honesty, human rights & justice, political willingness, prejudice, political inclusion, etc. need to be set aright for any meaningful decentralization otherwise EU taxpayer’s moneys will go down the drain. We need to overhaul the system to minimize corruption, being decisive of course and timeouts. President Bio instead of EU is the direct custodian of this money and some of us want to see this shameful level of poverty decelerate to a dignified level. We are following you Mr President.

  3. The topic of decentralisation, or whatever guise it comes under, has been with us forever. But as with so many other things the will power and commitment have been absent, aided by corruption at the highest level. Freetown has always been the focus anyway and we wonder why it is so congested and filthy – a fertile environment for diseases. The painful and bitter irony of it all is that we have always had a Minister of housing and country development; one is left to wonder where their head is located.

    We did have some semblance of decentralisation when the paramount chiefs held sway that we could have built on, the emergence of Siaka Stevens and S.I.Koroma turned the institution of chiefs on its head by politicising it. We started having chiefs in chiefdoms where they were not born, let alone belong to a ruling house. Now, once again, we essentially have foreigners coming in to give us direction. Where’s our so-called independence? Where’s our national pride. It’s so humiliating to think that we have become a beggar nation while large diamonds disappear between State House and Lungi Airport.

    For President Bio to succeed this time around he should place himself at the centre of the process to ensure that monies disbursed reach their target with tangible results. The President must remember that that he is almost half way into his “new direction “ course and a touch on the wheel is needed, not a full u-turn. As a soldier he should know that by giving unambiguous commands the job can be done with a few casualties along the way.

  4. May God bless the new direction for their good job. May God bless president Bio and his cabinet ministers.

  5. How can one initiate National Cohesion in a country without interlinking the various communities with a superb road network? It takes about 2-days for one to travel from Kamakwe (in the North) to Pujehun (in the South); and the person who takes up that venture would be seen as a foreigner when he gets there, because there had never been any direct interaction between the two places. A high proportion of people from Freetown (in the West) had never even visited Kailahun (in the East); simply because there is hardly any incentive to do so.

    Furthermore, in Sierra Leone the North, East, South and West of the country are virtually disengaged by sheer bigotry. Nonetheless, intermarriages amongst all ethnic groups are quite prevalent across the country. The former President, who comes from the North, is happily married to a decent and lovely lady from the East. So, what are the causes of the profound bitterness and lack of harmonisation within the the social fabric of society? Beyond any shadow of doubt, it is the politicians that are creating and upholding the framework of TRIBALISM. The absence of amicable interactions among the various tribes is not by coincidence, but a deliberate measure that had been carved out by politicians for electoral purposes, and as well as an illusion towards tribal hegemony.

    Of course, the destination for the launch of the 23 million Euro funding contact by the European Union, for the decentralization of the country was a perfect choice in Makeni, in the North. And probably the next port of call should be effected in Koidu City, in the East. Thanks to the prudent and shrewd mind of the European Delegation Ambassador, Mr Tom Vens; who without a doubt has observed the resource imbalance that is continued to be created by the present Bio-SLPP government in the constant channelling of resources towards the South. Since this government came to power 2-years ago, there has been hardly any type of meaningful development in the Northern part of the country. It may be worthwhile for President Bio to revisit this link:

    https://www.thesierraleonetelegraph.com/why-is-sierra-leones-development-formula-not-working/

  6. President Bio highlighted various ways through which these four lucky districts would benefit from the £23 million grant:

    KENEMA DISTRICT WILL BENEFIT THE FOLLOWING FROM THE EU GRANT:

    — Funeral Home
    — Ultra Modern Hall
    — Bridges and Culverts

    MAKENI WILL BENEFIT THE FOLLOWING FROM THE EU GRANT:

    — 75 bed Student’s Hostel for the Yoni Campus
    — Cattle Paddock
    — Water facilities
    — Water Point Facilities

    PUJEHUN DISTRICT WILL BENEFIT FROM EU GRANT THE FOLLOWING:

    -Construction of Market at Gbodappi, Bandajuma and Fonnima.
    -Two Guest Houses in Pujehun.
    -Solar Kiosks for women

    KAMBIA WILL BENEFIT FROM THE EU GRANT THE FOLLOWING:

    -Improved Water facilities
    -Guest Houses at Gbalamuya
    -Construction of Markets

    His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio extended his gratitude to the European Commission President for their unflinching support to his New Direction administration whilst at the same time reiterated his commitment to strengthening bilateral relations with the European Commission.

  7. Sahr Matturi says— “But how long will that honeymoon last without violence or another opposition politician not arrested?“

    Honorable Matturi, have you heard of the alleged attack of former vice president Sam Sumana orchestrated by the Kono SLPP organizing secretary nicknamed Albagdaji, during the funeral rites of a late paramount chief held yesterday in Koidu town?

    • I just heard the news a few hours ago. Well “Way cockroach wan alkali, na parmine bottle e day enter”. Thanks Young4na. We are waiting for the full details and we will be informed by the Sierra Leone Telegraph Newspaper. I am also engaged with my sources for further updates. Thanks Young4na and may God bless you.

  8. This is definitely a welcoming development irrespective of the uncertainty of real meaningful results. As in previous regimes, our western partners, especially the European union and the British government, have always gone out of their way in providing auxiliary developmental funds in meeting our largely dysfunctional national and local institutions needs. The importance of devolution of administrative powers, enshrined in our decentralization scheme cannot be emphasis. By and large, it’s one of the major reason why our provincial headquarter towns are mostly under-developed while Freetown the main capital is overcrowded with sights of filthy squatters all over the place.

    Despite spending over 10yrs in governance, the previous APC regime, did very little to fast track this highly necessary decentralization. Instead of spearheading a full implementation, lipstick service were employed by government officials, owing mainly to serve their self-interest — brown envelopes (bribes) must pass through them to sign or facilitate any administrative task.

    With the available European funds, I hope the current regime will not copy similar footsteps as their predecessor. For anyone out there who still thinks our western partners must never caution or advice us in regards to looming undemocratic events, just ask yourself this question. Does it make sense for anyone to invest money and other resources towards a certain cause or development, and sit by with folded arms doing nothing in the observation of potential derailment? The answer is a resounding NO. So please, stop making a fool of yourself.

  9. You cannot use Aid money to develop democracy or decentralised power. For democracy to flourish, you need two aspects of it in a society. Sierra Leone has been missing this jigsaw since independence. For it to work, you need a political culture and a political class. The political culture of Sierra leone, has always being marked by the North /South divide, tribalism, vindictiveness, victim hood, failure to concede defeat, revenge politics and centralisation of power in the hands of one man, the president. Above all else, failure to respect the rule of law, free press and justice for all. So in order for democracy to work in Sierra Leone, we need to turn a new page and do the opposite of all of the above.

    On the other side of the coin, for democracy to flourish you need a middle class. The way our country is, since independence, we only have two classes of peoples. The political class and the struggling majority population, who live their lives, from hand to mouth. There is no middle class. Until we are able to build a middle class, through education and opportunities, we will always struggle to understand why we lack development. For instance, if you strip away all the ills, I have listed that is holding our country back, you will be hard pressed to know what the two main political parties stand for.

    Is the APC, party – labour or the Democrats? In other words, the party of distribution of wealth? What about the SLPP party, is it the conservative or Republicans party? The party of low taxes and good monetary discipline. Looking at the two parties, you cannot tell the ideological difference. Even their most die hard supporters cannott tell what their party stands for. If we start looking at these two major parties with different lenses, then we will know what they really stand for. Therefore, we will have a different politics in Sierra Leone.

  10. “Progress is impossible without change,and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything,”(George Bernard Shaw)Those words are gold nuggets right there that have been given to humanity free of charge…but will Africans wake da hell up,and put them decisively to practice?Lets wait and see! Only time will reveal whether the choices we have made as a nation are the right ones.A chickens egg will always hatched into an adorable little chick and not into an fearsome ugly duckling – words to the wise!

  11. Its good to see finally the central government is willing to cede power to the provinces. Since independence our country has been governed from a one size fits all mentality. And that is from the centre – or I will go further, and say the president of the country. And if we look at it from the past its not good for Sierra Leone. We unwittingly create a monster in our midst that sucks the blood out of our country. The president of whatever party, is so full of himself, he thinks he will never put his foot wrong. So he becomes commader in chief of Mr know everything good for Sierra Leone. Obviously with so much powers concentrated in the hands of one man, you can’t turn around and blame him if he starts playing God with people’s lives. He surrounds himself with tribalism yes men. They never tell him the truth, even if privately they object to a policy.

    On Paper there are dictrict level authorities like mayors and pramount chiefs. But there are always huddles placed in their path by the central government to limit their powers. A recent example is when the Mayor of Freetown was shouted down by government ministers for her proposal to raise property taxes. I hope this government transfer power to the provinces. It should not be another public relations exircise to satisfy our EU partners. To me government should only be responsible, to maintain, peace and security, rule of law, manage immigration,foreign affairs, defence, education, health, the economy, and road construction.

    The rest like agriculture, the environment, should be left with local authorities. They should be given powers to raise money for their local communities. Sierra Leoneans will readily pay taxes in their local communities, if they can see it makes a difference in their area. So if I pay a visit to Kono, and see that new library, when I get back to Bonthe, or Tonkolili, I will ask my local authority where my tax money is being spent.

  12. Yeah. The Bio SLPP know very well that ideas like KONOEXIT is just around the corner if they don’t start to do the right thing, right now. Although decentralisation is welcome, it’s not enough. Sierra Leone needs total devolution if we are to develop as Mr Abdul Rashid Thomas, the Editor of this globally and trusted media outlet rightly said. How many times have we not suggested the idea of devolution on this great platform? On countless occasions! After weeks of bad news and embarrassment for President Bio and the Bio SLPP, there is good news for everyone to be happy. But how long will that honeymoon last without violence or another opposition politician not arrested?
    We should not forget Dr Francis Kai Kai, the Minister of Development in all this. His credibility has earned Sierra Leone respect, trust and confidence in the eyes of institutions like the Europen Community in my view. What an extraordinary achievement for a minister with a political base in southern Sierra Leone. Dr Francis Kai Kai is one of those Sierra Leoneans who has all the credentials in becoming President of the Republic of Sierra Leone under the SLPP party. Did they hear that? God bless President Bio, Dr Francis Kai Kai and of course Mr Abdul Rashid Thomas.

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