Local Government Minister apologises
November 15, 2019
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Tamba Saar Lamina, has in an exclusive interview with Concord Times registered his apology to all parties that faced embarrassment as a result of the abrupt cancellation of the declaration of aspirants in the forthcoming Ngowahun paramount chieftaincy election.
The said declaration was supposed to have taken place on Monday 11th November, 2019, but the process was cancelled at the eleventh hour after the stage was already set, with aspirants and their supporters converged in the township of Kalangba to grace the occasion.
Over fifteen (15) people aspired to contest in the paramount chieftaincy election that is supposed to take place any time in December, but one of the aspirants, Joseph Kanu petitioned the list of Traditional Authorities (TAs).
According to him, the said list was prepared during the past regime of the All People’s Congress and that it favours one of the aspirants hence it should be reviewed.
However, in a letter to the local Government Minister, some of the aspirants stated that they were not informed about the indefinite postponement of the declaration by the minister.
“We the aspirants of the paramount chieftaincy election in Ngowahun Chiefdom are very disappointed at the indefinite postponement of the declaration. We consider the decision as neglect to our rights as citizens of Sierra Leone. The chiefdom administration had no prior knowledge about the postponement. The aspirant who petitioned never did it in consultation with other aspirants and we are vehemently opposed to the petition document. No copy of the petition letter was distribution to other aspirants or stakeholders,” they said.
Speaking to this press in his Youyi Building office, Minister Lamina was very quick to tender his apology for failing to conduct the said declaration on the stipulated date fixed by his ministry.
“In the first place, let me tender my apology for the inconvenience the situation might have caused. But we want to ensure the credibility of the process because there would have been several complaints had the process had taken place on Monday,” he said.
While claims were that the cancellation of the process was the result of a petition filed by one of the aspirants, the minister stated that it was because the ministry discovered serous discrepancy with regards the gazetted list of TAs, who should vote in the election.
“The decision to cancel the declaration was taken before the petition was filed. We discovered that the number of Traditional Authorities was over bloated. For instance, the number of ceremonial chiefs in Ngowahun Chief as at May 2019, was increased from 20 to 310.That was so alarming! We engaged the National Electoral Commission on the issue two weeks back and they are looking into the issue,” he said.
Asked about the relevance of the TAs’ to the declaration of aspirants, he said the TAs are very much pivotal to the process because they are the ones that recommend an individual to be eligible to contest in the paramount chieftaincy election.
He said the over bloating of TA list was not only limited to the Ngowahun Chiefdom, but to other chiefdoms including Sella Limba,Tainka Topa,Makarie,among several others in the north.
“Gowahun is not alone in this situation. We have host of other chiefdoms whose declarations have been cancelled due to the same problem. Of cause I am a human, and I know that so many preparations might have been put in place for the declaration ceremony, but I am equally charged with the responsibility to see that we have credible and transparent paramount chieftaincy elections without the influence of money,” he said.
Meanwhile, he noted that his ministry and the National Electoral Commission (NEC) were working very hard to solve all problems relating to the over bloated PA lists and conduct the declaration ceremonies in the respective chiefdoms within the shortest possible time.