• July 16, 2021

Wind of Sabotage at FCC

Wind of Sabotage at FCC
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The present feud at the heart of the administration of the Freetown City Council is nothing good to write home about.

The unfolding events and rancour taking place at the Council portend a smack of sabotage that is feasting into the functions, operations and performance of the city council under the leadership of Her Worship Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyer.

Latest reports, complaints and a protest letter calling for the removal or transfer of the Council’s Chief Administrator, Festus Kallay, have highlighted several issues that could be ascribed as tantamount to insubordination wherein the Chief Administrator (CA) is alleged or said to have been refusing to speak with the Mayor for about eight weeks running, which is hitting into the smooth sail of the activities and operations of the FCC.

Complaints or issues raised by the protest letter, signed by more than forty councillors in Freetown, range from the CA refusing to speak with the Mayor, to abdicating his responsibilities such as not holding regular meetings and shouting at and challenging the authority of the mayor.

The letter was sent and copied to the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of Local Government, Chairman of Local Government at the Service Commission, Director of Decentralisation Secretariat, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government, Director of Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, and Chairman of the Local Council Association of Sierra Leone.

Excerpts of the letter sent to various stakeholders within the government machinery and dated 9th July 2021 –read thus:

“It is a well-known fact that since the start of this council’s administration in 2018, Freetown City Council has faced many challenges, and many of these challenges have been connected with the attitude and actions of the Chief Administrator (CA), Mr Festus Kallay.

“Several attempts at building a cordial working relationship have been made by internal and external mediators but always there is a return to behaviours by the CA that stop the work of the Mayor’s Transform Freetown agenda.

“Most recently, following an incident in mid-May in which the Chief Administrator shouted at the Mayor in the presence of other staff, he has not spoken to her for the past eight weeks, despite attempts to call him to attend official meetings.

“This practice of not speaking to the Mayor for long periods of time is not new and has happened at least 3 times since she was elected.

“The impact of this is very destabilising for the council as this behaviour means that the CA and inevitably other key staff do not attend meetings, do not report on work and generally creates an atmosphere of chaos and unaccountability in the office.

“Staff that focus on work are accused of being disloyal to the CA and are intimidated and harassed by him.”

This heartrending situation in the Council is a serious cause for concern as the Freetown City Council is a people-centred entity that is expected to provide essential services to the people of Freetown and promote national development.

If such an ugly situation is what has been prevailing in that all-important entity within the Local Government circle, then the lacklustre services we are experiencing in the city centre is to a great extent negligence of duty.

Could these allegations mounted by the protest letter be seen as the CA trying to finagle work and services at the FCC? The abrasive attitude the protest letter alleged to have been put up by the CA towards the Mayor speaks volumes.  We don’t want to believe that the CA is up in arms trying to use tricks and dishonest means to get what he wants at the Council.

The allegations in the protest letter are yet to be proven, hence cannot be taken as read. And that is why the Local Government Minister has insinuated that he won’t take a position on the matter until proper channels or complaint procedures are followed and that there could be more into the issues raised at the FCC than meet the eye. Although it is wise not to fan the current flames at the FCC, we shouldn’t close our eyes to what is happening at the council. It is actually affecting not only the workers at the council but also, and more importantly, residents of the Freetown city centre, and by extension, Sierra Leone.

Actually, from the look of things at the FCC, it seems Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyer has been lying on a bed of nails since she assumed duty at the FCC three years ago. Over this period, except for the fact that the Mayor has kept a cool head, she has been grappling with one politico-administrative challenge to another. She even has to face the Anti-Corruption Commission in relation to the Service Audit report.

The FCC cannot continue in this trend; something must be done to correct the anomaly at the council. As the Local Government Minister Tamba Lamina said on air a day or two ago, there seems to be a serious issue of leadership control and political undertone in the work of the FCC. As we read the runes, we can sense what will happen if the right thing is not done at the Council to sever the sustained sabotage and insubordination that has been going on at the council under the leadership of Her Worship Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyer, who so far has remained as cool as a cucumber in the storm at the FCC.

All said and done, we are of the opinion that the Council has intellectual resources, material resources, and human resources; all that the Council needs to do is to organise, plan and implement to provide the required services and good that the city needs and at large the nation.

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