By Elkass I.L.Sannoh
A one day Accountability and Transparency Forum Platform was on Thursday 30th May 2013 held at the Kambia District Council Conference Hall in Kambia.
The conference, which was organized by the Non State Actors with support from ENCISS, attracted many important personalities across the district. The dialogue forum is geared towards enhancing transparency between the District Council and the people of Kambia District.
Giving an overview of the dialogue forum, the Director of Democracy and Development Associate (DADA-SL), Mr. Foday D.M. Sesay- who doubles as the Northern Regional Coordinator for the Non State Actors, said dialogue and consultation improve transparency and accountability in governance. He disclosed that the dialogue forum does not serve as a witch hunt but brings all stakeholders together to assume responsibility, be responsible and transparent in their service delivery.
Mr. Sesay said in 2010 the first dialogue forum of similar nature was held between the civil society organizations and Kambia District stakeholders. He said, at the end of that wonderful forum, suspicions and mistrusts which were boiling between the two groups ended automatically. He said, in 2012, the recommendation of the first forum amicably increased participation and inclusion of all Kambia residents in all development plans with support from ENCISS. The whole district, participation in ENCISS Technical support came out with a comprehensive district development plan, Mr. Sesay maintained.
He further said it is against this background that the Kambia District Council, in collaboration with the non state actors, through ENCISS organizes a consultation and dialogue forum like this in order to break the accusation and suspicions on stakeholders and foster collective commitment and partnership in services delivery.
He said the forum was intended to provide a platform for the district officials to explain the council’s budget and the respective sector allocations, as well as other important administrative issues including the collection of local taxes, own source revenue, transfers and district development planning to the citizen as right holders.
He also assured that the forum will create room for dialogue and consultation on transparency and accountability as well as creating avenue for duty bearers and right holders to clearly understand each other’s roles and responsibilities.
In his remarks, Deputy Chairman of the Kambia District Council, Mr. Foday Morray Bangura, who served in the capacity as chairman of the dialogue forum, expressed hope that such a platform will enhance unity and break barriers between the Kambia District Council and the people they governed. He gave a complementary applauds to ENCISS and the Non State Actors for organising such a platform.
In his statement the Assistant District Officer, Mr. Ishaga M. Turay, maintained that such a forum is very important as it will clear a lot of doubts in the minds of the people especially on the council and it operations. He revealed that the dialogue forum will help to bridge the information gap and the level of suspicions between council, civil society and the media. He ended by urging the council to improve on the collection of their own revenue so that they will not depend on the tied grant given by the central government in a bid to implement Part 8 of the Local Council Act of 2004.
Making his contribution on the important topic, the Civil Society Chairman for Kambia District, Mr. Sinneh Sanda Kamara, noted that the people of Kambia were in total darkness on the operations of the council because of information gap. He informed that the council was not updating their notice boards at all. He therefore pleaded with all and sundry, to work with the council and be transparent in a bid to push the district ahead.
Also speaking on behalf of ENCISS, Regional Programme Officer North, Shek Ahmed Bobor Kamara, maintained that he is happy with the kind of setup of the Kambia District council and the Civil society Organizations. He added that initially the operation of ENCISS was not part of Kambia District but it was the wisdom of the Kambia District Council Chief Administrator Victor Kallie Kamara who prevailed on them to extend their operations in Kambia District. He continued that as an agency they are proud of the Kambia District Council being the first council to submit their district development plan to them. He gave an overview on the operations of ENCISS as a proud winner of the presidential gold award from H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma, and promised to submit all the discussions of the forum held in all the five councils in the North to H.E. President Koroma as message from the people of the Northern region.
At the end of the forum all the participants described the Kambia District Council Transparent and Accountability Platform as good initiative.