Local Governance: Revising Development Strategies

A number of Senior Divisional Officers across the country have just settled down to work following their commissioning by the regional Governors. This is sequel to their appointment by Presidential Decree No. 2022/302 of 14 July 2022 that involved divisions in six out of the ten regions in the country. While such a move could be seen as routine displacement of local administrative officials to carry out duties and functions for which they have been aptly trained to perform, there are various realities and hurdles linked to context and the management of human dynamics.     
Those appointed are certainly expected to bring in new approach and innovative solutions to the daily issues that the people face. Traditionally, they were being told to maintain law and order, protect lives and property, ensure economic prosperity within their administrative units and so on. They relayed such concerns to local populations during economic tours by announcing that they will collect and forward the grievances of the people to the appropriate quarters for possible solutions. Others made on-the-spot proposals for solutions to some urgent challenges provided that could keep the people in peace. But clearly the stakes are different today.     
Increasingly, their role is being challenged by a more critical public that wants immediate results and not promises. There are even areas where the people want to have a say in the management of their affairs. A desire which the Head of State has even acknowledged and given the greenlight. The inception of the decentralisation policy in the way state affairs are managed shows that the country is resolutely bent on pursuing a new contract with the people. All those tasked with exercising state duties at all levels must take the new approach into consideration.     
With the advent of the Information and Communication Technologies, almost everyone is directly or indirectly capable of having a say in just every aspect of the daily life in their localities. It has as such led to a public display of some of the shortcomings of administrative officials even in the most remote areas in the country. With little room to hide some of the malpractices that could have gone unnoticed, it is imperative that those representing the State today should shun bad habits like land-grabbing and impartiality in tackling disputes,  community conflicts, among others.     
Accusations of local administrators playing controversial role in fostering differences in order to make personal gains abound. True enough, experts argue that there is no school for training bad administrators. Those trained to handle the administrative machinery are expected to have undergone the same formation, but it is equally an open secret that not all succeed in producing good results on the field. Even worse, the reasons why some succeed and others fail are not only the results of difficulties in mastering the situation on the ground. There exist proven cases of open prodding of conflicts and receipt of kick-backs to serve the wrong cause.     
Pushing the people to extremes and aiding and abetting conflicts is one of the most degrading misdemeanours that an administrative official can afford to commit these days. By actively involving the population in the management of the difficulties that they face, the local administrator can be in a position to provide palpable results without compromising their role. With a more critical mass cropping up within the population that wants to question every detail, a local administrator posing as a demi-god may be a thing of the past. It is however true that there must be law and order for prosperity to thrive. Those who have the knack for putting Sate authority to the test also have to know that the consequences of lawlessness are always fatal. It is only when situations of a break down in law and order occur that people can best measure what they are losing. Otherwise, when things are evolving in a normal atmosphere, the tendency is to take certain State institutions for granted.     
Yet, it may not require a specialist in public order to understand that the stakes today are different. Since the advent of the multiparty political set up in Cameroon in the 1990s, the cou...



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