June 15, 2016 By Max A. Konneh, Press Officer, MLGRD/MFMR
During the colonial era, some chiefdoms in the country were amalgamated to form units to suit the convenience of colonial indirect rule. From a total of 217 chiefdoms, there are now 149 chiefdoms. Factors that justified the de-amalgamation of these chiefdoms no longer hold. Changes have occurred and people have now become more aware of their rights. It is against this backdrop, coupled with the need to maintain peace and harmony, respect for custom and tradition, that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has undertaken consultations in affected chiefdoms in order to come up with informed judgment on whether to de-amalgamate certain chiefdoms or leave them as they are at present constituted.
With the exception of few chiefdoms who prefer to remain amalgamated, a huge number of chiefdom authorities and other stakeholders in Bombali, Tonkolili, Kambia, Bo, Pujehun, Bonthe and Moyamba districts joined their counterparts in Kailahun, Kenema and Koinadugu to express their desire to cooperate with government to ensure the process is fully implemented. Speaking during consultative meetings held in various chiefdom headquarters of the districts, representatives from the amalgamated chiefdoms thanked government for the initiative. They described the process as a “long-awaited venture”, saying it would help address the existing feud among them. Some of them displayed placards, expressing their desire to de-amalgamate so as to have a fair share of development programmes. Those who prefer to remain amalgamated said the latter would help consolidate the existing peace and unity in their chiefdoms.
The leader of the team from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, deputy minister Hadiru Ibrahim Kalokoh, cited the 2011 Chiefdom and Traditional Administration Policy which stated that de-amalgamation shall be considered only if there was recorded evidence of formally separated chiefdoms and that the process would provide viable units of local administration, among other criteria.
Stressing the relevance of the exercise, the deputy minister said even though the Chieftaincy Act of 2009 that addresses rotational crowning of Paramount Chiefs has been passed, tension and animosity still manifest during elections. He informed chiefdom stakeholders that the process would lead to better harmony between communities that were brought together in an “unhappy marriage” as well as ensure peace, stability and good governance.
The Director of Local Government, Emkay Magba Kamara, entreated the affected chiefdoms to be law-abiding, noting that their visit was aimed at eliciting opinions and views on the initiative and called for honest, frank and peaceful consultations.
The Local Governance Consultant, Aiah Lebbie, who engaged the participants in questions and answer sessions, dilated on the history of Chieftaincy and Local Government Administration in the country. He described the process as an “epoch-making event” and encouraged all present to take it very seriously in order to enable them come up with a coherent and reliable report for the benefit of their chiefdoms.
48 affected chiefdoms were covered in the second phase of the exercise: Tambakha, Magbaimba Ndohwahun, Gbendembu Gowahun, Paki Masabong, Makari Gbanti and Bombali Shebora in Bombali District, Kalansogoia, Kafe Simira Konike in Tonkolili District, Braimaia, Masungbala Gbele Dixon in Kambia District, Niawa Lenga, Valunia in Bo District, Sorogbema, Galiness Perri, Kpanda Kabondeh in pujehun district, Kpanda Kemo, Kwama Bai Krim and Benducha in Bonthe District, Bagruwa and Fakunya in the Moyamba District.