LIBERIA: Nimba Leaders Upset By County Council’s Delegate Appointments

(By Arrington Ballah / Bush Chicken)

GANTA, Nimba County – Nimba district commissioners and mayors are unhappy with their roles in the upcoming Nimba County regular council sitting meeting.

The county council sitting meeting was established by the 2012/2013 National Budget Law as an annual event where stakeholders would decide on how to spend funds allocated to the county. The Nimba County Legislative Caucus is responsible for appointing delegates to the meeting. It was at this meeting that the Nimba County Council previously decided to purchase the 22 pieces of road construction tractors now in use.

The council meeting, which is taking place in Sanniquellie City from Feb. 20-21, is marked by controversy. District commissioners and city mayors are displeased with their roles as observers and have threatened to boycott the meeting.

The aggrieved parties say that the paramount chiefs and elders should not be designated as delegates while they (the mayors and commissioners) are observers. The note that, while they understand that the lawmakers reserve the right to make these choices, they consider the decision of the legislators as an insubordination to their offices. They are calling on the caucus to re-think this decision immediately.

“We have been attending all the past council meetings as delegates, why [are we] observers this time around?” Bain-Garr’s District Commissioner, Shirley Browne inquired. “I think this is a clever attempt by the lawmakers to keep us away and have more representation at the sitting, to have decisions going in their favor. We are in the district with the people and aware of everything that is happening daily. [The lawmakers] cannot have people from their offices as delegates and us, observers,” Browne concluded.

She made these statements via mobile phone early Thursday morning on Radio Voice of Gompa, Ganta.

Senator Thomas Grupee, the chair of the Nimba County Legislative Caucus, addressed the concerns of the aggrieved parties. He maintained that the legislators based their decision on the 2012/2013 National Budget Law from the Ministry of Finance and cannot be revised by the caucus.

“I want to make this clear.  People are saying that we are taking staff from our offices to the County Council Sitting Meeting as delegates.  That is false and misleading in the first place,” Grupee added.

“The two delegates, each from representatives, and the three delegates each from senators will be taken from their constituency and not from offices of lawmakers as claimed. [In the past], district commissioners and city mayors attended the council sitting as delegates. The reason is, back then the district council sitting was not in place. Now that it is being established, they will be making all of the decisions on the implementation of the district development plans that will come out from the council sitting meeting. They cannot make the decision, and at the same time implement it. The [appointed delegates] will make the decisions at the [county] council meeting in [the district commissioners’ and mayors’] presence.   [The district commissioners and mayors] will [in turn] make the implementation decisions later at the district council sitting to follow,” Grupee continued. The senator made these remarks in a telephone interview Friday morning on Voice of Gompa’s morning show, “Day Break Gompa.”

The Bush Chicken reviewed the 2012/2013 National Budget Law referred to by Grupee and found that his statements were in compliance with the statute. The law allows for “equal representation of either the traditional communities, the statutory districts, the administrative districts, and/or the municipalities, whichever is most inclusive of the county as determined by the county legislative caucus.”

Delegates at the County Council Sitting Meeting reserve all rights in the meeting, including to vote. Unlike delegates, observers can participate in all discussions at the meeting but cannot vote. Representatives from the 17 administrative districts comprising of the youth, women, elders, and chiefs will be present at this year’s council sitting.

Arrington is a Bush Chicken Journalism Fellow. A resident of Ganta, Nimba County, Arrington has a background working with credit unions and other organizations dedicated to rural finance. The Bush Chicken is a young operation and we need your support to keep bringing you great content. Please support us.

 

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