Traditional chiefs attending a weeklong
national forum here have accused central government of marginalizing them in the distribution of welfare services across the country.
“Look at the lawmakers, we are all elected. But they get more allowances and drive decent cars while we don’t,” cried Chief Karr Gibson of Margibi County, vice chair of the Traditional Council.
Chief Karr Gibson spoke on behalf of over 100 chiefs attending a special forum for chiefs held at the SKD Sports Complex in Paynesville under the auspices of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA).
He expressed disgust that some lawmakers are given huge allowances for agriculture breaks when they do not have farms in their electoral districts.”
“This is not fair. We are not treated fairly. Even our messengers don’t get pay,” Chief Gibson pointed out.
Paramount Chief Willie Togba of Saniquellie-Mano Chiefdom in Nimba County nodded in affirmation, and said: “Recognizing us in our capacities as chiefs will enhance development and reconciliation throughout the nation.”
For his part, Chief William K. Mawolo of Bopolu Chiefdom in Gbarpolu County accused lawmakers of fragmenting his chiefdom, adding: “Most of the enumeration of towns and villages are from the Capitol Building.”
“They divide our chiefdoms to gain favor. We are here today to attend this important meeting again with the aim of giving power to us, the tribal people. My fear here is that, are we not wasting our time?” he inquired.
Fatu Nyen, Rural Women president in Gbarpolu County said the issue of ‘human rights’ hampers their functions as chiefs in their chiefdoms.
“My concern is what are we going to do about this human rights business. Before, when a chief called everyone for (public) work, people will turnout. But today, human rights say they should be paid everybody before they work. Now, all our towns and roads are bushy because the moment you tell them to work, they say human rights,” she said.
Many chiefs complained about undue delay of their pay while others said they are constrained to walk far distances to receive their pay.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Amara Konneh, who attended the forum as guest, said his ministry was collaborating with authorities at Internal Affairs to streamline payment for chiefs.