When President Paul Biya on December 31, 2019 told his fellow compatriots that "A new Cameroon is taking shape," referring among others to the newest law; the General Code of Regional and Local Authorities, keen observers of the political and administrative setup of the country no doubt saw change coming on the long-drawn decentralisation process. As a matter of fact, the country's chief executive officer made reference to the bill to institute the General Code of Regional and Local Authorities which government tabled before the country's two Houses of Parliament, notably; the National Assembly and the Senate, for consideration in an extraordinary session. The Head of State promulgated the bill into law on December 24, 2019 signalling a new dawn in the country's decentralisation process. And indeed the fresh law has a lot in store for the process which has suffered several challenges ranging on one hand; from reticence on the part of vote holders in surrendering some of their sovereignties to the local councils to near inadequate quality and quantity human resources of recipient councils to handle certain tasks, on the other. But now, the path seems clearer for the rather irreversible process with the stage fully to produce desired results. The President of the Republic holds that the law heralds decisive breakthroughs in our decentralization process, notably regarding the status of locally-elected officials, the running of local assemblies and the allocation of additional, substantial financial resources to regions. To say the least, the code overhauls what has been happening in the country with regards to decentralisation and above all gives rights and responsibilities to elected rural authorities. With Communal Development Plans now dusted off the cupboards, the institution of Council Boards and significant openings for financial flows, it would be illogical to wholly accuse Yaounde again for the underdevelopment of a council in any locality across the 360 sub-divisions of the country. With the composition of the councils wherein councillors come from all the villages and other socio-cultural backgrounds, there is every reason to think that what would be done at the local level would come from the population and would meet their aspirations. Hope is that schools, for instance, would no longer be given where hospitals are needed or projects inscribed in the project's logbook when the beneficial populations are not aware. They who have sometimes posed as obstacles to project execution, especially when it concerns forfeiting their lands. A participatory approach is the hallmark of the innovative law. In fact, the Council Boards with their deliberative roles have the powers to regulate the affairs of the council through deliberations, express an opinion whenever required by the laws and regulations or at the request of the representative of the State, may express wishes through resolutions on all matters of local interest, particularly those concerning the economic and social development of the council. The clause that the board shall also be informed of the progress of works and actions financed by the council or carried out with its participation and shall be mandatorily consulted on the implementation, within the council area, of any development or equipment project of the State, the region, any other local authority or any public or private organisation makes for accountability which should logically beget efficacy. The stipulation that the State shall cede at least 15 per cent of the budget for the running of councils makes room for substantial resources in the hands of municipal authorities to take care of their day-to-day affairs. For instance, 15 per cent of FCFA 4, 909, 518, 700, 140, Cameroon's 2020 State budget represents a lot of money for better councils management. This amount, coupled with other council incomes, should be a booster to local development. This is real power to the people which gives them somewhat autonomy starting from the choices of their representatives and projects to be executed with available funds. A new page is thus opened for the country's decentralisation. Government is in the hands of the governed and stakeholders therefore have a historic task of making good use of the innovation for mutually-beneficial gains.
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