No Period Of Grace

The Presidents of the Regional Councils and their bureau members on January 25, 2021 started their first day of work thereby rendering the Regions as local authorities become a concrete reality. The Governors of the various Regions on January 22, 2021 commissioned into their offices the Presidents of the Regional bureaus and their members for the eight French-speaking regions of Cameroon and the Presidents and members of the Regional Executive bureaus for the North West and South West Regions each of which enjoy a special status.

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Commissioned on Friday, the bureau members started effective work the coming Monday, being an indication that they do not have any period of grace.  As pioneers, they have to work hard to deliver the development goods and meet the expectations of the anxious population, public authorities and the international community.  Before the commissioning of the bureaus of the Regional Councils, everything had been made almost ready for the Regional Councils to start functioning. Sources from the Ministry of Decentralisation and Local Development indicate that on the instructions of the President of the Republic, Paul Biya, a special allocation of FCFA 30 billion has been disbursed for this financial year to enable the effective take off of the regions. Each region is reportedly allocated FCFA 3 billion to cover the costs of sessions of the deliberative organs, salaries of bureau members and remuneration of staff.

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As work momentum gathers steam, expectations have correspondingly kept on rising. Many consider the regions as the panacea for development needs. The expectations are justified taking into account the powers the central governing has to devolve to the regions in conformity with Part II of Law No. 2019/024 of 24 December 2019 to Institute the General Code of Regional and Local Authorities. Grouped under economic development, the population expects improvement in their living conditions in the areas of economic action, environmental and natural resources management, spatial planning, regional development, public works, town planning and housing.  Educational, sports and cultural development also fall under the powers transferred to regions. In this case, they are in charge of education, literacy and vocational training, youth affairs, sports and leisure, as well as culture and promotion of national languages. The regions equally have to positively impact the lives of the local population in health and social development.

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To ensure a smooth take off, the Head of State has appointed the Secretaries General of the Regions for the proper functioning of the administrations. The North West and South West Regions each of which is endowed with a Special Status, besides the Secretaries General, now expect the appointment of Public Independent Conciliators who would work to ensure peace and harmony between council, regional administrations and the citizens. The various Presidents of Regional Councils and their bureau members already have to master the Law on the General Code of Regional and Local Authorities in order to effectively carry out their development mission. For Delegates of Regions, the political parties that nominated them expect positive results in order to consolidate their positions and prepare for more victories. For representatives of traditional rulers, their peers expect them to fight for general development and above all for the greater prominence of traditional chieftaincy in the country.

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