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North West: Municipal authorities drilled on Rights Duties, Ethics to improve council functioning

Thirty-four mayors from the different councils in the North West region have converged at the Office of the Public Independent Conciliator in Bamenda for a two-day seminar.

The seminar organized on the theme "Rights/Duties and Ethical Compliance in Council Functioning" has the intention to deepen the understanding of the thematic mandate of the Public Independent Conciliator (P.I.C) and also because of the necessity to drill councilors on issues that cut across the core mission of the PIC.

Organized by the Office of the Public Independent Conciliator, the seminar was aimed at bringing an understanding, and fueling collaboration while rectifying existing misconceptions such as the PIC coming to police councils.

The Public Independent Conciliator, Mr. Tamfu Simon Fai in his opening remark highlighted the responsibility and role of the Office of the Public Independent Conciliator in the smooth functioning of councils.

"The PIC is assigned the responsibilities to settle disputes amicably and propose statutory amendments or new legislation to ensure the effective functioning of Regional, city, and local council administrations and report to the president of the Republic. Regarding its substantive mandate, the PIC shall promote and protect the rights of citizens, users, and beneficiaries of council services, prevent and indirect discrimination and enforce ethical standards in regional and council functioning", he said.

Simon Tamfu Fai, North West Public Independent Conciliator

According to the Coordinator and Research Officer at the Office of the Independent Conciliator, Ndi Nelson, the seminar is to raise awareness.

"I wanted to draw the attention of the mayors to the fact that realizing rights and freedom is at the bottom of their work. Their work is about bringing human rights home. And they as a relay of government are supposed to endorse and give action to the commitment of the state to international human rights instruments. So when the state signs and ratifies international human rights instruments it is looking for components of the state to put it into action and this includes councils", he said.

He noted that councils exist to foster development and bring to life local governance and all of this is about fulfilling human rights.

"So that is why the human right is relevant to the action of councils on the ground and they have to be aware of it and begin to integrate it into their activities", he added.

Coordinator and Research Officer at the Office of the Independent Conciliator, Ndi Nelson

Gender expert, Nina Ambuban while facilitating non-discrimination and mainstream inclusion in council functioning advised the mayors not to involve staff in the campaign.

"I advised the mayors about campaigns because we have noticed that mayors involve their staff in campaigns and in the situation where a Mayor involves staff and is removed from that position, an incoming Mayor might decide to discriminate against those staff who participated in the campaign of the previous Mayor which will be a violation of their rights if they are unjustly discriminated upon. So we always advise that staff should not get involved in this process, they should stay out of campaigns because in the long run they can be dismissed", Nina Ambuban said.

In the quest to mainstream inclusiveness and diversity, councilors are faced with certain challenges as stated by Samba Cletus, a council development officer in Misaje.

"Mayors are politicians. Before you come to power you are elected by the population and in working with the population you are working alongside your councilors. The major difficulty mayors face in implementation is first that they have administrative and political pressure that is coming from those who you work with. You will have to consult them in every major decision taking. You have to face problems with the Senior Divisional Officer (SDO), the elite who helps you to carry out your campaign to fulfill your political agenda you will always work with them. you cannot take a decision based on your interest", he intimated.

The office of the Public Independent Conciliator has the role of the Pacificator, Watchdog, and Advocate of Councils. It is assigned the responsibility to settle disputes and amicably propose statutory amendments or new legislation to ensure the effective functioning of the Regional, city, and local Council administration.

By Tantan Patience

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