By State House Communication Unit
At a ceremony held at the University of Makeni (UNIMAK) auditorium in the northern city of Makeni on 29 July 2017, President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma formally declared a total of 41 de-amalgamated chiefdoms independent and subsequently installed regent Chiefs to superintend over the new chiefdoms until Paramount Chiefs are duly elected.
Explaining the rationale behind the de-amalgamation and redistricting, the president said it would help to deepen the decentralization process, commitment and participation to ensure sustainable development. He described the occasion as important as the ongoing infrastructural development across the country.
Before the colonial era, the president revealed, there were 217 chiefdoms and 13 districts in all. Owing to the amalgamation concept initiated by the colonial regime, the chiefdoms were reduced to 147 and later to 149. With the de-amalgamation that has now come to effect with standard and informed criteria he disclosed, the country has now got a total of 190 chiefdoms with seven districts in the north and seven in the south - east.
The process, President Koroma maintained, was completely devoid of politics as some perceived. He called on the regent Chiefs to remain neutral and ensure that they superintend over the various chiefdoms well as government would soon engage with chiefdom authorities to elect their Paramount Chiefs when funds will be available.
The UNDP Country Director Dr Samuel G. Doe described the de-amalgamation of chiefdoms as a laudable venture and urged Sierra Leoneans to commend the president for his courage and determination. Being a good initiative for effective decentralisation, Dr Doe assured of their full support to government at all times.
Country Manager of the World Bank Parminder Brar equally propped the initiative of de-amalgamation for efficiency and effectiveness of decentralisation. He said World Bank has spent close to 15 million dollars on decentralization through local councils and chiefdoms and has supported Sierra Leone for 55 years with sum total of 1, 500 billion dollars. In the next three years he assured, World Bank would double its support to Sierra Leone.
The ceremony was climaxed with the unveiling of the new map of Sierra Leone showing regions and districts respectively.