Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tribute to Mangoh Jones Tanko, Mayor of Nkambe Council 1996-2013

By Haruna Mohammadou
In March 1996, Kort Mangoh Jones Tanko took over the management of the Nkambe council. “ I went to
Mangoh flanked by his deputies in 1996 waiting to take over
the Nkambe Council and there was not even one paper on which I could write an instruction. I met council staff had spent thirty eight (38) months without salary. I inherited debts of about FCFA 43.000.000”. In the council coffers there was zero francs and zero revenue. He continued with his job of teaching while going to the council. By then the budget of the Nkambe council stood at FCFA 24.000.000 while realization was at FCFA 19.000.000. The amount was not even sufficient to pay staff. In 1998, the budget rose to FCFA 31.000.000 and Kort Mangoh and his team were able to realize FCFA 26.000.000. IN 1999, Kort Mangoh battled and raised the FCFA 31.000.000 and realized FCFA 28.000.000. “With this budget, the Nkambe council was qualified to apply for a municipal treasurer. Before we could apply for a municipal treasurer, all finances of the council were managed at the government treasury”. By then the mayor had no right to ask for money from the treasury to buy pens or papers. Everything was done on the whims and caprices of the treasurer. 
In the year 2000, Mangoh struggled and raised the budget of the Nkambe council to FCFA 45.000.000 in order to benefit from FEICOM Council additional taxes. “When I realized it, government gave us FCFA 24.000.000”. This amount was added to what was collected locally to raise the administrative account to FCFA 31.000.000. That is how the first municipal treasurer by name Suffo Michael was transferred to Nkambe Council. By 2002, the Nkambe Council was listed among the biggest councils in the region. The number of councilors were increased to 41 and instead of three deputies, Nkambe council rose to four deputies with a budget of FCFA 48.000.000. “We were able to offer 400 scholarships to our children and we started struggling how we could develop roads in the municipality”. He tried and repaired the lone bulldozer the council had and embarked on opening up farms to market roads. But the machine could not given that the parts were rare. The project for the construction of the Nkambe Municipal Complex was also envisaged and adopted by the council. In 2002, Kort Mangoh was already at the end of his first mandate. Fortunately, the mandates of mayors were extended for six months.
Second Mandate
After the 2002 Municipal elections, the SDF still won in Nkambe and Kort Mangoh was elected mayor. He had gathered enough experience in council management and system. His experience catapulted him to the helm of the Union of Cities and Councils of Cameroon-UCCC, North West Region for a second mandate. “This made me to understand what was going on in other municipalities. In 2002, I was also reelected as the President of UCCC North West”. He used the opportunity to porch development projects for his municipality and North West Councils. At UCCC, he signed several conventions especially with the Canadians to carryout feasibility studies in councils of the region. The appointment of Marafa Hamidou Yaya as Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization changed the face of development in councils and much was geared towards decentralization. In 2004, Kort Mangoh was part of the team that prepared an alternative law on decentralization to MINATD. “As an association of mayors and government delegates, we had solicited the services of experts coupled with our experiences prepared the laws but unfortunately for us, only the document prepared by government went through”. 
During Kort Mangoh’s second mandate, he discovered that the standard of education in the municipality had fallen drastically due to the lack of teachers. “I discovered that primary school graduates were not able to read or write even their names correctly. The council then opted to recruit 76 council teachers to the detriment of the scholarship programme that was only for 400 children every year”. With the collaboration of the Inspectorate of Basic Education, all schools without a trained teacher benefit for at least one. The following year, FSLC and Common Entrance results changed positively. At that time questions and worries about communication given that the council had cleared all its debts including the FCFA 19.000.000 owed SONEL they inherited. He then embarked on the creation of streets in Nkambe town. The dream of putting up the Donga Mantung Community radio arose and he embarked on it with the support of HELVESTAS after he struggled and obtained UNESCO’s okay for a community radio which unfortunately ended somewhere in Bamenda. “We had gone for years without information, at times when Television signals would come, they came without sound. I went out searching for a radio for my people. Government of Cameroon promised through UNESCO that they will give us a community radio. We did all the necessary requirements as they wanted. The unfortunate thing is that when the radio was finally approved for Nkambe, it ended up in Bamenda”. The sad incident pushed the mayor of Nkambe to continue the search. Luckily his landed him on a UK based organization, Radio Active that accepted to supply the equipment. With the collaboration of Chifu Edward and Hon. Awudu Mbaya, Nkambe finally got a community radio. The moment the equipment was shipped to Cameroon, Kort Mangoh had traveled to the United States of America. “I was excited when Mbeh Wilfred called me to inform me that some whites have come to install the radio. That made me happy and I said in my mind that at last my people are free”. But before Mangoh left office, he had obtained a loan from FEICOM to purchase two transmitters of 600 KWA each to increase the coverage of the radio. This was one of the giant strikes of Kort Mangoh as would be seen in his development agenda for Nkambe. 
Third Mandate
Installation of Mayor Mangoh and 4 deputies in 2007
During the 2007 Twin Elections the SDF won the Nkambe council again and Kort Mangoh was re-elected mayor amidst the ill decision of his party investiture. Mboke Godlive Ntua, the then SDO for Donga Mantung Division was smart to calm down flaring tempers as 16 councilors who had voted against raised illusions for being rushed. Kort Mangoh emerged victorious with 24 votes against 16. 
The SDF stepped in and threatened to dismiss all the councilors who had voted him. A few weak ones back paddled while those who adhered to the principle and slogan of “Power to the People” ignored the threats. For close to two years, Mangoh could not organize a successful council session as boycott became the meal of the day. 
To the greatest surprise of all, Kort Mangoh was at his best. He concentrated his energy and efforts in writing and lobbying for projects. At a blow, he inaugurated the construction of 5 schools with two classrooms each, headteachers office and pit toilet attached. During that inauguration, Kort Mangoh used the opportunity as a free thinker, to question whether the Social Democratic Front was now a social front. It angered party hierarchy and he (Mangoh, DK Nfor of Ndu, Chiato of Njinikom, Tikanjoh of Babessi and the mayor of Bafoussam II were sacked from the SDF). Mangoh became the spokesperson of the group of mayors who had challenged party investiture-There was a lot of wrangling left and right. But this did not stop him from implementing his development agenda for Nkambe. After two years or so, Kort Mangoh and co were rehabilitated back into the SDF.  
It was at that particular moment that Nkambe council was benefiting from its partnership with UCCC and GP DERUDEP. Having mastered the council system and how it operates, he sorted and lobbied for development projects from all angles. The administrative accounts of the Nkambe council had also risen to about FCFA 378.000.000. He embarked on the school without classroom program. Schools and health centres were constructed left and right. Water schemes were rehabilitated and new one established. Operation Greening Nkambe and catchment protection set in. A Master-plan was done for Nkambe town alongside Monographic Studies, Local Economic Development Plan and Strategic Plan. When the National Community Driven Program-PNDP zoomed in and with the Nkambe council market slabs were constructed, health centres, meat sales slabs and many others. Mangoh gave Nkambe the biggest Grandstand second to none in Cameroon, and, a Council Hall that is rated as the best in the Region. 

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

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