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As Kenema Council resolves impasse…

CA, Finance officer beg for mercy

NOVEMBER 26, 2014 By Mohamed Massaquoi in Kenema

Chief Administrator of the Kenema District Council, Tamba S. Musa and his Finance Officer, Patrick Morlai Kamara have both tendered a public apology to councilors regarding allegations of distrust and administrative lapses made against the duo by their Chairman, Dr. Senesie Mansaray and his councilors.

“We accept responsibility and apologise for the administrative lapses that culminated to the issues encapsulated in the councilors’ letter of protest. As a measure of our readiness to accept the seriousness of the issues raised in the protest letter and to ensure that an effective administrative machine is a driver to achieving the development aspirations of the council, we hereby register our profound apologies for the administrative lapses highlighted in the protest letter and wish to assure council that concrete steps would be taken to ensure full compliance,” the officers said.

Both the administrative and political departments of the council agreed to start operations on Monday (24 November) after being closed for over a month.

Councilors had claimed that Messrs Musa and Kamara were in connivance against the council, signing contracts and agreements without the knowledge of council members.

In a protest letter dated 2nd September 2014 to government authorities, including Resident Minister-East, Maya Kaikai, the councilors said they had lost trust and confidence in the duo on the grounds that they were in the dark about revenue collected, property rate, projects and programmes implemented within the council, council properties leased to private individuals, and the manner in which certain projects were being executed.

“To underscore that the CA and the FO did not work in the interest of the council, we hereby highlight that the district council guest house has never function since its construction some three years ago. It is disheartening to know that the CA and the FO were the sole signatories to the council’s bank account since September 2012 to January 2013. There is also a cold room project in Tongo Field in the Lower Bambara chiefdom which was leased to one Mr. Francis   Torto for the sum of one million Leones without the knowledge of council members. Among all of these challenges, we the councilors have lost complete confidence in these two authorities,” the letter said.

Meanwhile, a five-man independent mediating panel headed by Provincial Secretary-East, George A. Penyikie, was set up to look into the allegation and make their recommendations to the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Diana Konomanyi-Kabba, and other stockholders.

The committee, after completing their investigations, resolved that the CA and FO have no regard and respect for the political leadership of the council and that there was complete breakdown in dialogue and huge information gap between the two officers on the one hand, and council members on the other hand.

It was also reported that there were series of acute irregular conducts and loopholes, such as underperformance, low output and productivity, which explains why the council is ranked 17th out of 19 councils in the country.

Following the outcome of the investigation, Chairman Dr. Mansaray and councillors demanded that both men should be transferred, but for the intervention of the Kenema Descendants Association, the Resident Minister-East and other stakeholders who pleaded that the officials be allowed to continue work for a reasonable period of time to enable them prepare council’s annual financial report for 2013 and 2014 for vetting by lawmakers on 28 November 2014.

It was also resolved that backlog salaries and allowances of essential workers should be paid immediately to facilitate operations of the council, while they called on the Ministry of Local Government and Local Councils Commission for transfer both officers.