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Saturday, December 5, 2015

2015 Budgetary Session: Stalemate in Ako Council

 By Cass NN
Akio Augustine
An atmosphere of uncertainty looms in Ako council after the 2015 budgetary session which was planned for November 24, 2015 flopped. Sources say after the reading of the agenda of the day, councilors immediately transformed the session into a Portuguese Parliament, complaining for the nonpayment sitting allowances. The infuriated councilors also accused the mayor and council treasurer to have transformed them to beggars. Some councilors also said that council financial resources were being managed as if it were a provision store while others were on their toes complaining that the mayor, Akio Augustine has refused to organize an evaluation session.  All attempts by the Senior Divisional Officer for Donga Mantung to calm down flaring tempers met stiff resistance from the councilors. Matters came to a head when the councilors raised another motion that they are not even sure that arrangements have been made for their allowances.”We want our allowances to be paid on the spot. We cannot continue to admit to be treated like beggars. It is common meal that every time we come for a session our allowances are paid after one or at times after three months”, one councilor hammered.
When the SDO for Donga Mantung Division, Ngone Ndodemesape Bernard asked the mayor and treasurer whether the sitting allowances for councilors was available, it become clear that council coffers were empty. Tension almost escalidated when the Municipal treasurer revealed that the council had received FCFA 30 million from FEICOM and she had used everything without informing the mayor.  Councilor Toka Thomas described the drama as an unfortunate situation, “We have realized that the mayor and the municipal treasurer are not working hand in hand. That is why we have come to this mess”. On her part, Councilor Lizette said the municipal treasurer is a problem. She said when the councilors suggested to that the mayor that they should ask for a treasurer, the mayor rejected it. “We cannot hold a budgetary session without having evaluated how the budget of the previous year was used”, she questioned.
Accusation and Counter-accusations
On his part the mayor of Ako, Akio Augustine said he was fully prepared for the council session believing that the council treasurer went and collected money from the bank. “Since the treasurer has not been here for weeks, I believed she must have gone to the bank to bring money to pay councilors. In addition to this, the mayor is not a signatory to the council bank account. It is only the municipal treasurer. That is a clear case. Last week I was in Bamenda and I tried to go with her to the bank just to stand by because I am not the signatory but she said there is nothing in the account. She came back two days ago and I did not come to present any situation to me. She is now talking of FCFA 30 million that came in and has been spent”. The mayor further lamented that the treasurer has not shown him any receipt nor any document on how she spent the money. “It means she is using this money all alone. I cannot believe it. For now the mayor is going to send a delegation to the bank to find out the last time she withdrew money”. Reacting on allegations that the council took an overdraft, the mayor of Ako said “believing that the council took an overdraft, we should have a balance and even receipts of payment”.
On her part the municipal treasurer Madame Mei Nee Stella Seimasih said that the council was relying of “centime” from FEICOM to pay allowances to given that the account was in red. “we were highly waiting on the centime but when I went to the bank, it hadn’t come. The mayor would have looked for a contractor to sponsor the session as is always the case with the agric show and the money be reimbursed latter”. She however lamented that the mayor and councilors are always suspicious of her given that she is the lone signatory to the account and one other council staff. “They feel that the mayor or one of his deputies should be a signatory. So whatever I go to the bank and tell them, they always think it is not true. It seems as if I am taking the money and putting in my private pocket. In conclusion I want to add that my life is at stake in this place because I am dealing with a very whimsical mayor. At times the man signs a document and refuses it. It seems as if his senses of reasoning are very low. Whenever I am from the bank I always give him the photocopy of the check”. What is however intriguing is the fact that the same treasurer who said nothing came from FEICOM later revealed that FCFA 30 million came and FCFA 10 million was deducted as overdraft and the remaining FCFA 10 million she used in paying taxes. “When that check was issued, the region took it. When I will be in Bamenda next week I will bring the photocopy of the check”. Some councilors are pointing an accusing finger at the Divisional Chief of Taxation for Donga Mantung for being an accomplice. The treasurer is even accused of perpetual absenteeism but she refuted the allegations.
Enter Shewa David (MP attempted)
It is alleged that before any council session holds, Shewa David always sets the agenda for councilors in the name of party discipline. This observer’s say has also contributed enormously to the cacophony during council sessions. Akio Augustine says “the problem councilors have here is that the man who attempted to be the MP overcomes them. Whatever he says, they stand behind him. They think that when someone is highly educated, that person knows everything. The attempted MP doesn’t know anything”. It is alleged Shewa during that session even sat amongst councilors whereas he is not supposed to. More so, severally he was trying to make a statement when matters came to a head whereas only the councilors have the right to speak during council sessions.
(Coming up: Who Runs the Ako Council, Mayor, Attempted MP or Treasurer?)



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

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