As municipal election draws near, aspirants to the 360 council arears in the country are proposing various development models to woo the electorate.
T he count down to the February 9 twin Legislative and Municipal Elections is on with electoral campaign in full gear as aspirants strive to woo electorates. The stakes are particularly high for candidates of the municipal election given that the councils play a pivotal role in local development. In fact, elected municipal authorities now have a daunting task more than ever before to ensure the development and wellbeing of their municipalities and its population. Most communities in the country are still faced with several development challenges such as farm-tomarket roads, potable water and sanitation and electricity amongst others. These amenities aimed at improving the living conditions of the population now features in every speech as candidates are gunning for votes. Whether these are mere slogans, only time will tell but what remains certain is that the municipalities are in dire need of development.
With the much talked about effective decentralisation, that entails the transfer of more resources and competences to local councils, much is expected from the local government structures. The population of the 360 councils is ever thirsty of development and their expectations are high especially now when decentralization is said to be on a superior gear. Developments needs in the areas of roads, potable water, electricity, health, education, decent housing are topmost in their unexhausted list of desires. In fact, it is incumbent for the elected officials to initiate job creating development projects which will go a long way of not only providing jobs to thousands of unemployed youth but will also reduce poverty in their municipalities. The February 9 local elections are coming within the context of deepening decentralization and the Special Status granted to the North West and South West Regions. This simply implies that the local councils will have more resources devolved to them and to whom much is given, much is expected. Coming on the heels of the extraordinary session of parliament where the General Code of Regional and Local Authorities was adopted by the lawmakers and promulgated by the Head of State. The new legal instrument has increased to 15 per cent of the State budget, the general decentralization fund, allocated to councils. This measure, the Minister of Decentralization and Local Development, Georges Elanga Obam explained during the recent National Decentralization Board that it will be effective from next year given that the law came into existence after the Finance Law for 2020 was already voted. Meanwhile, in an exclusive interview to the national bilingual daily, Cameroon Tribune recently, the Director General of Budget in the Ministry of Finance revealed that FCFA 250 billion will be allocated this year for councils within the framework of decentralization. According to Cyrille Edou Alo’o, FCFA 110 will be transferred to councils as budgetary resources from ministerial departments while FCFA 140 billion will be transferred to councils as from taxes. These resources are however different from internal revenue to be generated by different councils and which has to be used for the development and improved living conditions of all and sundry in the municipalities. The five-year communal development plans proposed during campaigns just not end up as just mere campaign slogans but rather be implemented for the general interest of development.