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Regional News of Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Source: The Sun Newspaper

Southwest female councillors determined to track budget

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Female councillors in the South West Region have expressed their determination to track council budget so as to boost transparency in the management of council affairs.

The decision was amongst the many arrived at, at the end of a two-day workshop organised by a Limbe based think tank, CAJAD, last 22 and 23 January at the trinity Hotel, Limbe.

For two days female councillors and civil society leaders built their knowledge on monitoring the execution of council’s investment budgets and projects.

Speaking at the start of the event, the Director of CAJAD, Tchepnang Bathelemey, said women have not put their best in the fight against corruption.

He said in recent years, CAJAD has been working ona women’s empowerment initiative to improve the rate of participation and performances of women in matters of transparency and local governance in the South West.

He said, prior to the 2013 twin elections, CAJAD began a pilot activities in Fako by sensitising women on their roles in political affairs.

Tchepnang Bathelemy explained that it is in line with this that CAJAD has sought to expand the pilot initiative to the entire Southwest Region, by supporting female councillors and civil society to be more efficient in their roles as representatives of the people and to work closely with council executives in the execution, monitoring and evaluation of Council investment budgets and projects.

Bathelemy however warned that the training is not meant for the female councillors to oppose the mayors, but to guide the mayor in the follow up of the execution of projects since, as councillors are closest to the community.

He adviced them to call the Mayor’s attention immediately they realise that a project within their community is not being well executed than to wait till the contractor hands over a bad job.

The Senior Divisional Officer was represented by the First Assistant Senior Divisional Officer, Lokombe Nafongo Vincent who said it is imperative for councillors to put an eye on the way Mayors spend council money.

He said there should be a control mechanism with all councillors involved and female councillors in particular.

Nafongo Vincent lamented that the outcry of improper execution of projects has caused lots of problems especially since there is little or no independent monitoring mechanism.

It is on this note that he congratulated CAJAD for its initiative adding that Government is sparing no efforts to promote women in this endeavour. Topics that were served for the two days include, exigencies for accountability of Mayors and the people’s right to know, monitoring the execution of council investment budget/rights and duties of councillors in budget management.

At the end, the participants elaborated a common monitoring form and a road map to be used on the field and decided to form an Association of Southwest Female Councillors from the existing Association of Fako Female Councillors.

Speaking to THE SUN at the end of the workshop, one of the participants, Councillor Eyere Takor from the Limbe I Council said the workshop was absolutely necessary because it was about putting things straight to better the lives of the electorate.

Councillor Princess Fongang Emilia, from Tinto Council, on her part opined that, they have gotten a lot of lesson especially the rights and duties of the councillors, which they did not know. She called on the organisers to continue sensitising the women in different aspects of the society and democracy.

Brice Martial, Communication officer of CAJAD and the main facilitator of the workshop told THE SUN that, he is satisfied with the outcome of the workshop since the expected results of the workshop were all attained.

Their response was encouraging as they showed a good understanding of the presentations and we could see that they were zealous and willing to take back the skills to their various councils.

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