Friday, October 17, 2014

Governance: At Public Hearing Fundong Mayor Gets 8 on 10 from Populace

After spending 367 days in office as mayor of Fundong Council, Awoh Ndang Denis has broken records to give an account of his stewardship. The local governance meeting dubbed “Public Hearing” which was massively attended by people from all walks of life took at the ABASSAKOM Hall in Fundong. As the moderator of the event Choves Loh puts it: Public communication is generally absent in most council set ups in Cameroon whereas it is very important in the drive and achievement of local development as an instrument in good governance.

Awoh Ndang Denis in Blue suit and the Moderator Choves Loh
To impressionists, October 16, 2014 marked the opening of a new chapter in Fundong council’s communication which is very crucial in setting records straight, checking rumours and misinformation. As hundreds stormed the meeting hall to listen to their mayor gives a vivid account of his one year in office, expectations were also high at that the forum will create a permanent bridge to enhance interaction between the council and the population. Facing the population has been one of the major problems in councils in Cameroon given the corrupt nature of some elected officials. Fundong Council mayor took the challenge to tell the people who elected him into office what he has been doing and his vision for the municipality. 
When Awoh Denis Ndang moved to the rostrum to present his activities, he revealed that when he took over office, the Fundong council had FCFA 53.000.000 unpaid bills, an overdraft of FCFA 12. 000.000, FCFA 19.000.000 unpaid salary to staff and FCFA 15.000.000 unpaid taxes. Yet he has cleared almost ¾ of the debts in one year but regretted that revenue that is located locally is very insignificant and that the council is working towards its improvement.  Even though he met a heavily indebted council, he did not fold his arms.
Harping on his major realizations, Fundong Mayor said that his first action was to carryout feasibility studies on some projects which have been forwarded to PNDP and FEICOM for funding.
However, Awoh Ndang Denis disclosed that waste management in town was one of his preoccupations. “We were able to acquire 20 trash cans to the tune of FCFA 1.2 millions and place them on strategic positions in town”, he continued. The council he announced also acquired two tricycles to transport waste in Fundong town. In the domain of hygiene and sanitation, the mayor said that a sanitation office was created in the council since he met none and that within one year; he was able to provide the town of Fundong with a public modern toilet constructed which cost the council some FCFA 4 million.  
In order to give a facelift to the Divisional Headquarters, the mayor said some major streets were graded to the tune of FCFA 8 million. “We also carried out some minor repairs at the Funding Grandstand and extended water into the main market with a public stand tap”.
Awoh Ndang Denis Talking to Journalists
On the controversy that surrounded the non-reception of the Fundong Council Hall, the mayor revealed that the issue has been laid to rest. “To solve the problem, FEICOM instructed us to create a new contract giving all the stakeholders their pride of place”.
In the domain of education, Awoh Ndang Denis disclosed that in order to provide a suitable learning environment to students in rural areas, the council donated solar lamps to GSS Adok and also recruited two teachers. “With the support of Tom shoes, we provided shoes to some school which students used for 11 February 2014”. And FCFA 2.5 million was also used in the acquisition of text book for teachers with support from PNDP. The council he revealed also paid school fees to 15 young trainees, donated bundles of zinc to GSS Melin and GS Bomam. He also noted with satisfaction that during the summer holidays 127 students were recruited for holiday jobs in view of supporting them at back to school. While he is currently making a tour of the municipality to distribute scholarships to meritorious students and the underprivileged estimated at FCFA 3 million.  In order to amplify the minimum package to schools which the mayor says it is too small, the Fundong council he revealed added a supplement of FCFA 1million to give more impetus to it. “We also decided to put to use our council forest, we are actually fabricating 160 benches with wood from our forest to share to needy schools in the municipality and we also acquired textbooks for Primary Six pupils to the tune of FCFA 1.2 million with the support of our two senators” he added.
In its fight against rabies, the council he said also bought 200 vaccines to enable the vaccination of dogs.
In the domain of ICTs, the council also installed internet services to improve access to information technology for youths. Besides that the mayor also told the population that the council also allocated the sum of FCFA 20.000 monthly allowance to the Boyo Community Radio to sustain its functionality.
“I met a council where all the documents were typed in a public secretariat in town and to me, it is unfair. We tried to equip our offices to the tune of 10.7 million”.
Considering the fact that the Fundong council depends mainly on agricultural activities to generate revenue, the mayor said that the council bought 30.000 coffee seedlings and distributed them to farmers to boost the sector.
Need to move within the municipality, 127 holiday makers and the process of handing scholarship to the tune of 3 million. Minimum package is very small and we put in close to a million as supplement.
Mayor Awoh Ndang Denis also said that the Fundong council also partnered with AES SONEL to create a 5000 seedlings eucalyptus plantation in Fundong.  Extended water to the funding market and rehabilitated the meat sales slab.
“We tiled the meat sales slab to the tune of 4.1and we reinforced the cattle market. Fabricated 120 benches and we need 160 benches.” And in the domain of farms to market roads, he cited the clearing of road sides, the ongoing corrections on the Alim-Mbam road and the FCFA 13.8 million from the Ministry of Public Works to work on the Ajung-Fundong road.
In his conclusion, Awoh Ndang Denis said as mayor he wants to make the difference through governance. He said one of his main preoccupations is to disenclave the municipality. He told the story of his trip to Mbenka which he has to pass through four other sub Divisions and two Divisions to get enter into his own municipality. We spend over five hours trekking including 40 minutes in a canoe. “I need to do something to link these five villages that are cut off from us”, he ended.
Worries
Even though the population applauded and gave him a tick for his level headedness to organize the first ever public hearing, some of the worries raised included amongst others his collaboration with SDF councilors. More so, they population also wanted to know what happened to the FCFA 5 million from MINFOF to plant trees in the municipality. I his reaction, Awoh Ndang Denis said he is working with everybody and not a group of people. “I am the mayor of Fundong council”. On the financial mishaps, he replied that he is not an auditor but exploded that he discovered that the funds meant for tree planting were withdrawn from the bank in September which to him is not normal. “I have seen reports that a million was used for fire tracing but if we have proof that the trees were planted there is no problem. You know that since I took over the council, we had many court cases and I have seen that it is a waste of resources and time. I have negotiated for the withdrawal of the majority and I am sure next time I will tell you all the cases have been withdrawn.
On whether he will leave the council with debts as he met it, Ndang said his dream is to level a free of debt council.

In rating the mayor’s performance, social critic Gwain Colbert Fulai said that the mayor touched almost every sector, with education, hygiene and sanitation, roads and farming taking a larger proportion while the health sector was completely ignore. The mayor received an 80% positive note for his realizations and vision for the municipality. 

When News Breaks Out, We Break In. (The 2014 Bloggies Finalist)

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