The National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) has officially launched the Biometric Verification of Chiefdom Functionaries at the Koidu New Sembehun City Council, Kono District, Eastern Region.
The launch of the biometric verification of Chiefdom functionaries was to affirm government’s commitment to improving the welfare of chiefdom functionaries, governance and to strengthen Chiefdom Councils, which will positively impact on service delivery at all levels.
Present at the launch were the Hon. Minister and Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Tamba Lamina and Madam Melrose Kargbo respectively, the Resident Minister of Eastern Region Andrew Ansu Fatorma, Council of Paramount Chiefs, His Worship the Mayor of Koidu New Sembehun City Council (KNSCC) Komba Mathew Sam, the Director of Local Government, Brima Newman Coomba, the Director-General of NCRA Mohamed Mubashir Massaquoi, provincial officials, chiefdom administrative functionaries, and other government dignitaries.
Welcoming participants at the launch, His Worship the Mayor of Koidu New Sembehun City Council (KNSCC), Komba Mathew Sam on behalf of the people of Koidu City thanked the government for such a laudable and enduring initiative. The Mayor maintained that the New Direction government under the leadership of President Bio is indeed a force to reckon with. He thanked participants for leaving their busy schedules and answering to the call of patriotism and national development. His Worship the Mayor expressed profound gratitude to the NCRA and the MLGRD for choosing Kono for the launch of the biometric verification of chiefdom functionaries.
In her opening remarks, the Deputy Minister of MLGRD, Melrose Kargbo who doubled as chairperson for the occasion, noted that the importance of the above exercise cannot be overemphasized as it is geared towards having a reliable, accurate and credible data which will enhance the entire verification process.
She explained that the process will enable government plan well for its citizens and non-citizens resident in Sierra Leone. She encouraged all stakeholders involved to support the process wholeheartedly.
Speaking on the purpose of the meeting, the Director of Local government at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Brima Newman Coomba announced that the essence of the meeting was to officially launch the biometric verification of chiefdom functionaries. He said the launch was an indication that all parties involved are ready to go into action.
Mr. Coomba noted that the verification exercise will help government to identify the composition of chiefdom functionaries as well as sanitizing the payroll at the Accountant General’s Department. He added that the verification exercise will guarantee an effective and efficient service delivery to the people of this country.
In his statement, the Director General of the National Civil Registration Authority, Mohamed Mubashir Massaquoi thanked participants for giving in their time to the process which was a sign of readiness and acceptance of the above exercise. The DG noted that the Authorities responsible for the verification exercise are doing all they could to ensure that the verification process is done in an accurate, professional, and transparent manner. He assured all that the NCRA was not in any away conducting the process to discriminate or sideline anyone but rather the Authority will render its technical service to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, as requested.
Mr. Massaquoi furthered that after the launch, the NCRA will duly inform all chiefdom functionaries what documentation is needed for the verification exercise. He added that the untiring effort and support of paramount chiefs is equally needed if they are to have an accurate and credible verification process. “After today’s launch, the NCRA will put out a public notice to inform those concerned about what they take along to the verification center. We also rely on the role of the paramount chiefs to help the NCRA in identifying chiefdom functionaries during the verification exercise,” the DG said.
He maintained that the involvement of paramount chiefs during the entire verification process, will give credibility and expedite the exercise for further actions by the Ministry of Finance. The DG called on participants to fully support and cooperate with the NCRA during such period.
The DG also disclosed to participants that the report of the infrastructural facility assessment which was conducted in collaboration with the MLGRD, Provincial Administrators and Traditional Authorities for the use of local government facilities as permanent registration centers was at its final stage. He added that these centers when finally set up, will create permanent and pensionable employment for youths in every chiefdom and ward level. The DG announced to participants that civil registration will soon be at their doorsteps and assured them that recruitment of that process will mainly target indigens of every chiefdom. “The important thing here is, we are taking the civil registration services to your doorsteps, using your own people,” Mr. Massaquoi confirmed.
Finally, the DG admonished local authorities present at the lunch to certify every marriage solemnized in their community, adding that those data are vital to the NCRA as by the NCR Act of 2016, the Authority must be able to account for family information and how those families dissolved.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Finance, Mr. Adams Kargbo from the Local Government Finance Department said that the launch was a fulfillment of a commitment made by the Hon. Minister of Finance during the hearing of last year’s FY2019 budget in parliament. He explained that the verification exercise will help them as a ministry to identify the officials at chiefdom levels. He added that through the biometric verification, government is able to know the composition of chiefdom functionaries and their capacity, and proper planning and adequate resources will be allocated to them.
Mr. Kargbo assured all present of their support and commitment as a government in guaranteeing that the exercise becomes a success for all.
The Resident Minister – East, Andrew Ansu Fatorma and the National Chairman, National Council of Paramount Chiefs (NCPC) Ahmed Sheku Fasuluku also made statements on the importance and benefit of the biometric verification of chiefdom functionaries to national development.
Giving his key note address, the Hon. Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Tamba Lamina thanked all participants present at the launch for gracing such an important program. He said that, as other speakers had already mentioned, the launch was an indication of government’s commitment to improving the welfare of chiefdom functionaries and paramount chiefs. He noted that government through the Ministry of Finance has already fulfilled part of that pledge, as paramount chiefs and chiefdom speakers have now started receiving salaries from government. “Today we are here to finish that part of the commitment by collecting the data of chiefdom functionaries with the help of the NCRA. This will ensure that the welfare of chiefdom functionaries is improved,” the Hon. Minister said.
Hon. Tamba Lamina said that the process has delayed due to the Corona virus pandemic, but assured participants that the verification exercise will kick start very soon and it will last for maximum, 2 weeks. He announced that the Ministry of Finance has provided all the necessary support, financially, to ensure that the exercise is undertaken within the shortest possible time.
The Hon. Minister noted that the verification exercise upon completion, will inform them about the status of the chiefdom functionaries, those who have reached retirement age, as well as looking at recruiting young people to perform those functions. “All of those activities are geared towards improving local service development,” the Minister said.
Mr. Lamina explained that under the New Direction government of President Bio, the role of chiefdom functionaries has moved away from just maintaining peace and stability in their localities, as President Bio frankly believed that chiefdom functionaries should play a critical role in development activities. He added that, the government has deemed it fit to recruit technical staff as chiefdom development coordinators in all the 190 chiefdoms who will assist in running the affairs of the chiefdoms accordingly.
The Hon. Minister also announced that his Ministry and the Ministry of Finance are at an advanced stage of developing a policy referred to as Fiscal Decentralization. He added that the policy will address the issue of how monies should be allocated between councils and chiefdoms.
He further said that they have embedded in the policy a concept known as “One fambul framework” He said this structure will help chiefdom functionaries in identifying their needs, especially when developing their chiefdom development plans and priorities and will guide government’s intervention. He also mentioned that at a time like this, the need for the drafting of code of conduct for chiefdom functionaries cannot be overemphasized.
Mr. Lamina pleaded to all paramount chiefs to support the process by ensuring that they made available all chiefdom functionaries during the verification exercise. He noted that in an effort to ensuring that no chiefdom functionaries are being left out of the process, the exercise will now be conducted at chiefdom level rather than at district level, which was the initial plan.
The Minister announced that his Ministry is putting mechanisms in place whereby hard-working and developmental oriented paramount chief will be recognized for their good service to the nation. He assured paramount chiefs that all concerned or issues raised in their positioned paper will be critically looked into, adequately.