By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
It is a known fact that prefixes and suffixs give different meanings whenever they are used before a word, or after a word, known as the base word. For example, the prefix, “DE,” which denotes opposite of; remove, reduce or deprive, whenever it is used before a word, gives it a different meaning.
The word, “concentration,”which comes from the verb concentrate, means“to gather into one body, power or force,” like we have presently with the status quo- the government’s structure in terms of the works of Ministries, Agencies and Commissions, with the acronym, “MAC”. And so when the prefix, “de” is used before the word concentration, thus forming the new word, “de-concentration,” this means a complete opposite of the meaning of concentration. This time, it simply means not centered or focused in one place.
I try to delve in the issue of prefix and suffixes because of efforts by this country to“change things around” or a new paradigmn after many years of a concentrated government operations that have not brought expected benefits to the nation and its people. The present entranched concentrated system of government’s operation has contriburted to poor services and has taken the government’s services from the peple. As a result, citizens in the rural areas have to travel to Monrovia for basic services such as obtaining marriage or drivers’ certificates when such could be obtained in the counties.
It is an indisputable fact that for years there have been incessant calls for this country to move from this concentrated system of governance, as it has been seen as one of the factors responsible for the country’s underdevelopment, despite it being endowed with enormous natural resources, coupled with its ‘not too explosive population’ of about four million people.
Besides, it is also believed that this kind of concentrated system has brought about unnecessary bureaucratic bottlenecks, causing unnecessary delays in service-delivery. As Internal Affairs Minister Morris Dukuly, my senior media colleague said, decentrastion would “remove red-tip and delay in service delivery, “ and that it is also intended to“taking the government to the people.”
It is based on the desire to change from this unusefuldeconcentratated system to a deconcentratedsystem,which is seen as an important or giant system, in the country’s decedntralization program of government to making it more people-participatory in the governance system.
The platform towards this is expected to be launched tomorrow in Gbarnga, Bong County by President Sirleaf. It is considered an important component of the decentralization which two years ago( January 5, 2012) was launched by the government. The policy among other things visualizes the devolution of functions and resources to local governments over a 10-year period.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the launching of the de-concentration platform will be the highest expression of the President’s commitment to the decentralization program. In that platform document, all the ministries and agencies agreed on the services they are sending to the counties to be under the supervision of the county superintendents.
In an interaction with the media last Saturday, Internal Affairs Ministry, Morris Dukuly, said during activities to launch the De-concentration Platform, the Ministry is also bringing together all county officers for orientation and training.The training is intended to prepare the participants for decentralization, because under de-concentration, superintendents will become chief executive officers for their counties.
He said the occasion marks a significant step in the implementation of the decentralization program and that the de-concentration is all about taking services to the people, instead of them coming to Monrovia to get certain services done or performed. He noted that one benefit is to “remove red-tape” and delay in service delivery. He said this would also reduce cost of government’s operation and that it is all about taking the government to the people.
Also during tomorrow’s program, the President is expected to honor five chiefs for the distinguished and dedicated services to the country and its people. The five chiefs who are predominately from Bong will be recognized, decorated and certificated in Gbarnga. They include Liberia’s longest paramount Chief,Gbelly Kamara of Todee District, Montserrado County and Former national Orator and retired Bong County Paramount Chief Flomo T. Barworlor. Others are paramount Chief FlomoGbokolo, Chief FlomoGonkpain and NyanTarkular, all from Bong County.
Actually, this issue of deconcentrating government’s operation has been a matter of concern, for which there have been calls for government to work on the issue of decentralizaton. This, it is believed would do away with the bureaucratic red tape and do away with delays in providing government services to parts of the country.
Already, there are institutions and structures that have branches or whose presence in the counties. What needs to be done is to capacitate them to render those services to rural dwellers to avoid them coming to Monrovia to get certain things done. This also means that the government should ensure that similar branches are established in other counties.
Indeed, the deconcentration program is necessary, especially so when it would make government services more accessible to the people and more importantly reduce the cost of government’s operation.
As I depart, as part of the media team for tomorrow’s program, I see this platform as the preclude to the much-talked about decentralization program, which I wait to see to become a reality, as I expect that it would be an uphill battle, as some elements in government make stumbling blocks or feel uneasy to lose some of their powers.
But all in all, no matter the expected battle, decentralization is necessary to make the government democratic, effective, efficient and more particiatory.I believe that if we can succeed in deconcentration, we would definitetly triumph in decentralization. Again, the decentralization debate would not be easy, especially on the issue of “devolution.” I Rest My Case.