Chiefs in Bong and Lofa counties are calling on the government to implement the Local Government Act, which was signed into law in 2018.
The LGA provides for greater participation of people in governance, more equity in natural resource decision-making, and more local ownership of, and responsibilities for, decisions that impact local communities.
The Project Planner for Lofa County, Farkpa Kolo Roberts, said that Paramount, Clan and General Town Chiefs should be elected in accordance with the LGA, adding, “power should be returned to the people through the decentralization process”.
“The Superintendents should also be working with ‘County Council’ that will advise the Superintendents on project policy and its implementation as well as the grassroots needs of the people through citizens’ inclusiveness,” Roberts emphasized.
“The government needs to fully implement this LGA because the LGA is part of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) pillar one, which is “to empower popular participation in decision-making in governance and giving power to the people,” he added.
The District Commissioner for Jorquelleh District in Bong County, Washington Bonah, lauded the YOTAN for the knowledge-building training workshop and said if the LGA of 2018 is not implemented entirely, tangible developments will not impact the local inhabitants.
“From 1847, our developments have been heavily concentrated and decided by the central government, leaving the leeward counties underdeveloped,” Commissioner Bonah stressed.
The chiefs made the statement on May 28, at the close of a three-day capacity building training workshop on the implementation and decentralization of the 2018 Local Government Act organized by Youth in Technology and Arts Network (YOTAN) in Gbarnga City, Bong County.
The three-day training workshop brought together 50 participants from Bong and Lofa Counties and was climaxed with questions and answers as well as group discussions.
The lead facilitator and a civil society activist in Bong County, Jesse Cole, informed the participants that the policy was adopted and launched by the government on January 5, 2012.
He said the aim of both the policy and the law according to chapter one of the LGA is to ensure that government is decentralized so that people can have more opportunities to participate in decision-making and policy development at the local level, as a means of strengthening democracy and promoting socio-economic development.
“Put your lawmakers’ feet on the fire so that they will make sure that the Executive implements the LGA because, when the LGA is in full swing, some powers will be shared between the counties and the central government,” Mr. Cole encouraged the participants.
At the close of the training workshop, the Executive Director of Youth in Technology and Arts Network, Donnish Mulbah Pewee, said the training was geared toward promoting citizens’ awareness of the decentralization of the Local Government Act and enhancing Local Service Delivery in the country.
Local Service Delivery in Liberia is a two-year project that is being sponsored by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
Pewee noted that the Local Government Act is a direct indication of the government's Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, which calls for power to the people. He added that training is vital to promoting citizens’ understanding of their roles in the implementation of the LGA.
Meanwhile, participants vowed to take the knowledge acquired back home to increase their awareness of the LGA and its implementation in their respective communities.