Decentalisation: Minister Obam hails progress, but impact not felt

By Doh James Sonkey

The Minister of Decentralization and Local Development, Georges ElangaObam says Cameroon is making efforts like many African countries to see decentralisation and local development as well as civil registration and vital statistics progress.

He granted a press declaration last August 8, 2022 on the 11th African Day of Decentralization and Local Development and the 5th African Day of Civil Registration and Vital Statics Day to be jointly commemorated this August 10, 2022 in Maroua.

Speaking in his cabinet in Yaounde, Minister Elanga Obam declared that the African Union insti-tuted the Decentralization and Local Development Day to enhance the dissemination of the 9 principles and values formulated for players in the decentralization sector in the governance of local affairs namely, community and inclusive participation, solidarity, respect for human and people’s rights, diversity and tolerance, justice, equality and equity, integrity, civic responsibility and citizenship, transparency and accountability and responsiveness.”

He said the event is taking place at the time decentralisation is being accelerated and deepened with the continued establishment of regions as well as the deployment of councils and city coun-cils in the local development sector.

The theme calls on sub state entities, local councils and regions to further harmonize their efforts with those of the State to achieve food self-sufficiency.

The Minister said the 5th African Day of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics aims to further sensitize and educate the African public on the importance of civil status registration and vital statistics. African countries need to build dynamic, interoperable, resilient, proactive and agile civil status registration systems with a view to universal registration of all civil status events.

Minister Georges Elanga Obam of Decentralization and Local Development

The objective, he said, is to make each citizen visible by giving him or her a legal identity and to increase the credibility of States as well as regional and local authorities by building their capaci-ty to provide basic social services to the population.

“A bill governing civil status registration has been prepared and may soon be submitted to Par-liament for deliberation to align it with international standards. The strategic plan  for the reha-bilitation of Cameroon’s civil status registration and the master plan for the computerization of the national civil status registration system will also be updated.” Concluded Minister Georges Elanga Obam.


Critics of the decentralization process have pointed to the very slow pace due largely to the resis-tance of the central authorities in Yaounde to relinquish power and resources to the periphery. Most councils are broke and insolvent leading to a patchy development of the rural areas and even urban towns.

When asked what the preoccupations of mayors are, though it was not raised during the debate, a mayor hinted The SUN that “the minister has reassured us that the transfer of competences and resources will be resolved.” He asked us to wait.

Councils in Cameroon are not only faced with the problem of accrued salary arrears but lack of sufficient qualified staff.

The resistance to transferring powers to the regional and local authorities and the vagueness of many local actors as to the true meaning and scope of the regionalisation process are potential threats to political stability and indicators of new forms of insecurity on the horizon.

Participants pose with Minister Georges Elanga Obam of Decentralization and Local Dev’t

The challenge of the new reforms is certainly to improve governance by shifting the center of decision-making from central institutions in Yaoundé to the regional and local authorities to better boost economic and social development. It is also about giving a significant place to the population in the management of local public affairs. The challenge is also to empower local authorities in relation to the central state, in a balance between the principle of the uniqueness of the state and the expression of socio-political and cultural diversity.

Cameroon’s decentralisation framework consists only of regional and local councils and therefore does not extend to the village periphery, which presumably falls within the jurisdictional purview of local councils. In Cameroon’s current rural setting, however, the vast majority of the local councils are still so short of technical and managerial capacities that they cannot properly perform the local government functions assigned to them under decentralisation laws, and much less mount the much needed and overdue robust village modernisation programs.

Maroua to host

The 11thAfrican Day of Decentralization and Local Development and the 5th African Day of Civil Status Registration will be celebrated this August 10, 2022 in Maroua and will be chaired by the Minister of Decentralization and Local Development, Georges Elanga Obam.

The first event will be held under the theme: “Making food security a key priority for develop-ment and territorial cooperation” while the second will take place under the theme: “Harnessing Coordination, Country Leadership and Ownership to Strengthen Integrated Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems: a Vehicle for Counting Everyone”.

In prelude to the celebration, activities gearing up to the double eventwere launched last August 3, 2022 at the Centre Regional Council by the Decentralization and Local Development Minister, Georges ElangaObam. The two roundtable discussions focused on decentralization and civil sta-tus registration.

In his speech, the President of the United Councils and Cities of Cameroon, CVUC, Augustin-Tamba said councils will continue to work with the administration in the implementation of the decentralization process.“The problem of food insecurity should be solved to make live easy for Cameroonians. Councils will continue to its best to make sure that the civil status registration is improved upon.”The President of the United Councils and Cities of Cameroon said.He sincerely thanked the Minister of Decentralization and Local Development for accompanying councils in all what they are doing.

The Minister Georges Elanga Obam thanked Augustin Tamba for the commitment he took on behalf of Councils to continuously produce wealth. Through this double celebration, the Minister said, it is time to foster our decentralization and local development as brainstorm on what should be done to encourage our civil status registration system in Cameroon.

The building of main and second civil status registration centres must begin with local Councils.


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