Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bamenda City Council, the Most Corrupt? (2)

Vincent Nji Ndumu: Gov't Delegate to the Bda City Council in the middle
The extraordinary session of the Bamenda City Council of March 14, 2012 has finally confirmed that the city council is being managed as if it is a private entity. The long-simmering and divisive communication breakdown between members of the City Council board and the Government Delegate boiled again after a second attempt to redefine the roles and responsibilities of both the deliberative and executive organs in order to put an end to the overdosed absolute powers of Vincent Nji Ndumu as Government Delegate.  
Njouonwet Joseph Bertrand Manshe, the SDO for Mezam was very clear that if his role as supervisory authority had been taken into consideration, the numerous management lapses would not have been recorded. The discretion of Government Delegate to the Bamenda City, Vincent Nji Ndumu to approve multimillion development projects without any green card from the city board is ‘’very dangerous’’ as decisions are frequently taken without the approval of the deliberative organ. Whether it is incompetence on the part of his experts or an obnoxious plan for fear of political interferences, and or perhaps a means to hoodwink resources into private pockets as many already think, the fact that some of the decisions are not documented properly raises a lot of doubts. When it came to the notice of senior councilors that Vincent Nji Ndumu had again taken upon himself absolute powers to distribute the 208 sheds without an okay from the City Board, impressionists concluded that the city council was already a sinkhole. Expressions that may affirm the worries by also expressed by Mezam SDO when he wondered whether the city council has been transformed into a private estate and a money making venture, “The council is not a private institution and should not be run as a private entity” Njouonwet Joseph Bertrand hammered.
Whereas the most common council functions of the executive is to implement the decisions of the city board, oversee assessment of businesses, issuing fines and receiving cash payments etc. Another yet to be understood decision was the construction of 30 additional sheds around the Bamenda Municipal stadium which the city board raised a motion for its suspension yet in defiance to that motion that sanctioned its suspension for proper procedures to be applied Vincent Nji Ndumu ignored. Notwithstanding, he (Ndumu) went ahead to enter into a private partnership with a private company to build the sheds. There was an atmosphere of cantankerous flames when the news was revealed to the astonishment of all. To the greatest surprise of onlookers and councilors, there was no documented cost estimate for the 30 additional sheds. On the contrary, Vincent Nji Ndumu said he was more concern with how much money the council was to make from the deal.
It should be noted that during the budgetary session, the SDO for Mezam rejected a draft deliberation on the distribution of the 208 sheds to serve as a shot across the bow to the unresponsive administration, which was some sort of a warning signal that what was being done was in violation of the council law. Yet city board members spent hours combating, biting to finally dive into a dramatic discussion outside the council. After spending over 20 minutes out of the vicinity, Mayor Balick Awah voiced the final decision. The senior councilors submitted a motion rejecting the funds collected as advance rents by the city council and that the money collected from traders should be refunded. However, the same councilors turned round to give a blank checque to the government delegate to enter into an agreement with a private company to continue with the construction of additional 30 sheds. In addition, the government delegate was tasked to submit for review the total cost of the project. “Now more than ever it is important for the government delegate and city board members to band together to foster development,” the SDO said, and urged on the government delegate to seek regular approvals from members of the city board in accordance with council systems to avoid mishaps. Even though a deliberation was finally adopted empowering the government delegate to continue with the private partnership for the construction of the 30 additional sheds, a motion was raised for the advanced payment collected from tenants at 750.000 FCFA per shed to be refunded within two weeks. Just like during the budgetary session, senior councilors insisted that the amount was too much. They argued that the huge sum of money already deposited into a certain account should be refunded back to the traders. Vincent Nji Ndumu was asked to summon the traders to come and collect the money because the 750.000 FCFA advanced rent and 250.000 FCFA insurance fees were too much. Tenants will henceforth pay their rents quarterly or on monthly bases giving that council revenue is never collected in advance.
Notwithstanding, the SDO for Mezam pointed out that these very councilors had adopted a draft deliberation which placed the amount at 2 million FCFA before he rejected it. It is becoming apparently clear that the Bamenda City council from the executive to the deliberative organ in its entirety is made up of a group of self-centered individuals who perhaps see nothing good in anything except in the form of bread, a phenomenon that makes it difficult for the council to be corruption free.  That the city council should respect the law by collecting rents on monthly bases or quarterly as required by law is not just a fact but an instrument to check on corrupt practices.
In a desperate attempt to convince the grand councilors, Vincent Nji Ndumu pleaded for clemency arguing that the council needed funds to carryout projects such as the construction of the retaining wall at the Bamenda Food Market and the flooring of the Nkwen Market where some traders stage a march to express their grievances to North West Governor. But the appeal was rejected, Vincent Nji Ndumu voiced out that he is aware that some councilors who had the privilege to acquire a shed, are said to have given them out at 2-4 million FCFA each to traders.

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