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Authority Conflict: Ntone Ntone Throws In Towel 

At an extraordinary session of the City Council that held on February 13, the Government Delegate admitted that the Minister, being the supervisory authority, has the power to make the final decision on the recruitment or dismissal of senior personnel of the council. The conflict between the Government Delegate and the MINATD boss reportedly emanated from a decision which the latter took in 2007 to sack four senior personnel, without the Minister’s approval.

When the sacked workers filed a complaint to the Minister vis-à-vis their dismissal, the Minister reportedly felt slighted by the Government Delegate.  Marafa, in a show of force, ordered Ntone to reinstate the sacked workers.  Ntone Ntone, on his part, resisted the Minister’s instruction, claiming that the he had the powers to recruit and fire workers. Apparently Ntone Ntone felt that it would be a humiliation to reinstate the sacked workers. Consequently, a power tussle erupted between the two.             

As the conflict raged on, the Government Delegate, in what looked like a manipulation, got the 36 grand councillors of the Douala City Council to support the decision he took to sack the workers. He reportedly told the councillors that the senior personnel had been absent from work for several months, and had even ignored radio announcements he made warning them to report back to work or face severe sanctions. The councillors, who were relatively new, hastily took a resolution supporting the decision. 

SDO Refuses To Validate 2009 Budget

Meanwhile, as the conflict between the Government Delegate and the Minister smouldered, the Wouri SDO insisted that the only solution to the conflict would be for Ntone Ntone to respect the Minister’s instruction and reinstate the four dismissed senior personnel. Ntone Ntone had remained adamant.

In early December 2008, Marafa, seemingly, in an attempt to have the conflict resolved without much ado, wrote Ntone Ntone, suggesting three options; either Ntone Ntone reinstated the sacked senior workers, place them on early retirement or follow the official procedure and lay them off. But even with those options, the Government Delegate was still rather insubordinate. He would present Marafa`s letter to the grand councillors at another closed-door meeting in December to adopt the 2009 budget.

Apparently employing a delaying tactic, the Government Delegate and the councillors set up an ad hoc committee to examine the Minister’s letter and make proposals. Evidently impatient, the Minister ordered the Wouri SDO not to validate the 2009 budget of the Douala City Council, until his instruction was respected. This move blocked the council’s budget and thus projects and other items that were contained in it had to be put on hold.

This meant that the Douala City Council could not pay the salary of its 751 permanent workers as well as the FCFA 12.5 million monthly subventions to the five urban councils (Douala 1-V), and the Manoka Rural Council referred to by the city council as Douala V1.

The Surrender

Suffice to say that when Ntone Ntone realised that he was fighting a losing battle with the MINATD boss, he swallowed his pride and threw in the towel. In this vein, he convened the extraordinary session of February 13. Earlier on February 11, the ad hoc committee had met with the four sacked council workers and "interrogated them on the circumstances which led to their dismissal". 

Whatever the case, the ad hoc committee presented its findings and proposals. It was not immediately clear as to what the proposals were, but sources described them as positive.
Meanwhile, the councillors adopted the proposals. Also, the 2009 budget was re-examined and a few modifications made in line with the instruction of the SDO. The modified budget of the council for 2009 now stands at FCFA 38,772 billion.

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