Benin/Intercommunality: "...the communes of Borgou together around Adecob can develop culture and tourism" according to his Majesty Yawakina II

Published on 06/01/2022 | La rédaction


His name is Aboubakari Séro YERIMA. He is the king of the commune of Sinendé. After his primary and secondary education respectively at the EPP Abdoulaye Issa and at the Lycée Mathieu Bouké of Parakou, he continued his university studies to finish with a Master's degree in Economic Sciences, option Management of Organizations, obtained at the University of Abomey Calavi with a Master's degree in Project Management. Former mayor of the town of Sinendé and former president of Adecob, discusses with your online newspaper several issues: loss of influence of kings in a society increasingly extroverted, war of precedence between crowned heads and mayors, return of royal treasures, reform in the sector of decentralization, the major challenges of the town of Sinendé and Adecob ...

www.jumelages-partenariat.comHow is the commune of Sinendé doing?

Aboubakari Séro YERIMA, His Majesty Yawakina II: I would say that Sinendé is doing well. Sinendé is fighting to meet the requirements of Decentralization and development to put itself in the bosom of the communes that meet the needs of their populations.

What are the major challenges facing the commune of Sinendé?

Firstly, I would say that it is the mobilization of its own resources, because without this, no commune can really boost the development of its territory and satisfy the needs of its populations. As a second challenge, the great challenge of the commune of Sinendé is the supervision of the youth. If the youth is supervised, it will be able to express the reasonable potentialities that are there for its emergence. In third place Sinendé has reduced the impassability of rural roads but more is needed because as they say, the road to development is the development of the road. We should think about the rehabilitation or even the opening of tracks at the level of the commune. We are fortunate that the government of His Excellency Patrice Talon is doing its part in the asphalting of the Guessou Sud-Forbouré road; Fobouré-Sinendé theWe also hope that the remaining half of the road will be completed so that we can feel a sense of relief. Furthermore, the commune of Sinendé must make a reasonable and fair assessment of the fiscal potential of its own resources and be able to raise awareness among the population to make the best use of this potential, which will enable us to mobilize many resources as I have just said. In addition, it is necessary to proceed with the realization of socio-community and economic infrastructures. These are schools as they used to be, health centers, youth emulation centers. This will allow them to stretch themselves and to leave behind the unhealthy games that we see today. Finally, as an action, there is the improvement of security in general for the mobility of people and goods but also food security. But we believe that Sinendé is self-sufficient.

The crowned heads in Benin have lost their former prestige. Modernism or simply loss of values, what explains the loss of influence of kings on their communities? What do you think we can do to restore our values in an increasingly extroverted society?

Really! This is a crucial question: modernism or simple loss of values? I would say both because since ancient times, colonial times, the colonist has taken steps to bury everything that is tradition, to banish even royalty, which is why we see everything that is happening. In colonial times, the kings had their heads cut off; they said that everything traditional is satanic, everything traditional must be ransacked and desecrated, and this continues to this day, but an awakening, an awareness is gradually taking place. On the educational side, our educational system has its origins in colonial times. If we make a comparison with English-speaking countries such as Nigeria and Ghana, it is not the same thing. In their case, it is even better than what we see with the crowned heads in the French-speaking countries. Modernism helping, the youth being formatted in relation to a given system, we find that everything that is our customs, we must put it in the background. Even our desires for food, clothing, etc., we find that we have to wear what comes from the outside and as you said, we are witnessing an extroverted society. So to come back to the problem and to go back up this slope, we must change our mentality, our way of thinking and see even in the educational system, the elements on which we can intervene. If we take countries such as China and India which were at the same level of development as our French-speaking African countries, you see how they have taken their tradition in hand, they have gone back to their endogenous values. I think that even Western countries are afraid of these countries today.

For a long time, we have witnessed the war of precedence between traditional authorities and political-administrative authorities, the elected officials who seem to have won it definitively. As a former mayor of the commune of Sinendé and today crowned head, what should be the relationship between the mayor and the king for a perfect management of the commune?

Personally, it is for those who do not understand and believe that it is a war between the elected officials and the traditional chiefs. But those who understand should know that this is so because mayors today are political authorities, so-called public authorities; this comes from the development policies instilled by the colonists, who have already taken steps to bury everything that is traditional chieftaincy. It goes without saying that, given that the colonist wished, said and hammered that the traditional chieftaincies are in the background and that it is the political authority that is superior, I say that this is not a war. Better still, the king has an unlimited mandate while the mayor has a power with a limited mandate. We know in Africa, particularly in Benin, especially in the north and specifically in Borgou, the weight of tradition in the management of the city. Mayors are sometimes obliged to have recourse to crowned heads for the settlement of certain situations. Moreover, in recent years, certain technical and financial partners have been involving the crowned heads in their activities in order to obtain more convincing results. This explains the role and position that traditional chieftainships must occupy in the development process. As for me, I think that the relationship between the two must be complementary. The two must consult each other regularly. They must be able to consult each other regularly to explain development issues and to deal with the challenges they face. If I take my case for example, when I was mayor there was no problem with the crowned heads of the whole commune. There is total respect and I contribute to the emulation of traditional chieftainships. There were even lines written for the support that we can give them. I believe that this continues in some communes. So it's not a war, the mayors and the kings must get together to think about the development of the commune. Because they both want the well-being of their population.

You have been president of Adecob, what is, in your opinion, the relevance of this Association in the development of the communes that make it up?

The Association for the Development of Borgou Municipalities (Adecob) where I was president for three years, if it did not exist, let's say that it had to be created and as it exists, its relevance is no longer in question. It is an association that was refounded in 2008, in December 2008 if I remember correctly, after its creation after the municipal and communal elections of 2003-2004. As soon as it was refounded, it said that it should be able to bring the communes of Borgou to cooperate. This means putting the communes of Borgou together and pooling their efforts. For ten (10) years, I think that Adecob has been acting mainly in the socio-economic field of the Borgou region and has given itself a certain number of flagship areas in which it should be able to intervene. Firstly, it is communal project management and at this level Adecob is repositioning the communes to put them at the heart of the satisfaction of the needs of the populations, of the offer of public services to the populations, which is very important. Secondly, Adecob is mobilizing its own resources by strengthening the capacities of the communes and also acting in one way or another on behalf of the local authorities.Secondly, Adecob has started to mobilize its own resources by strengthening the capacities of the communes and also by improving the framework for the development of private operators and the living environment of the population. You know that it is the private sector that promotes the economy. So Adecob acts in this dimension.

We also have land use planning, where Adecob acts by anticipating, as it were, the transformations that may occur in the urban and rural settlements of Borgou. You see, the population of five (5) years ago is not the same as the one we have today. So we need to make projections for good planning. So it thinks about it for a good distribution of the space and the living environment at the level of the communes. Adecob is also working on the promotion of inter-communality to pool the efforts of the Borgou communes and the human, economic and financial resources available to them for better exploitation of these resources for the benefit of the population. In last position I can mention the female leadership. Adecob acts in all areas that allow the emulation of women, to place them at the heart of decision-making centers and also to pursue financial and economic empowerment of these women. And if you observe well these fields approach almost all the socio-economic aspects of the communes of Borgou.

We retain from your answer several achievements, but not everything is perfect. There are certainly challenges: what do you think?

Apart from the achievements I mentioned, let me first add a few. Adecob now has a headquarters. What is very important about Adecob is its democratic governance. Since 2008, Adecob has never delayed the organization of a general assembly and has never delayed the changes that it must have in the organs. This is important in an Association. We have also strengthened the capacities of the communes, especially in terms of resource mobilization and governance, so that today many communes have improved their governance methods. Adecob has even created a prize for good governance and the communes compete to be the best. And at the national level, some communes in Borgou are ranked among the best. In 2019, seven (7) of the eight (8) communes of Borgou were in the Top 20. This means that Adecob is doing a good job.

In terms of challenges, there are many, but the main challenge is to strengthen democratic governance, which is a challenge of all times. Because people change day by day but the course should be maintained. Second challenge, you note that there are reforms today with the second act of decentralization. Adecob must keep up with these new reforms, reflect or adapt to them. Also, these reforms will require repositioning at the commune level. Adecob must reflect on these issues and be able to reconcile the requirements of this reform with the policies of the PTfs, because each PTf has its own policy and if there is no agreement, it will have to be revised.If there is not agreement at a given time, we must act to know how to capture external funds that will help in the realization of a certain number of things. Apart from that, we can focus on the capitalization of knowledge because those who do not capitalize on their knowledge risk taking over the wheel one day. Adecob must therefore capitalize on knowledge, especially in the area of resource mobilization, where Adecob is already diversifying the Ptfs.

Speaking of resource mobilization, in terms of art, culture and tourism, there is a lot to sell, but what is really wrong and what can Adecob do to make the communes of Borgou culturally and tourism-wise attractive?

This is a very strong question! What is wrong in these areas is that we do not have a taste for culture, we do not have a taste for tourism. And you see, culture and tourism rely much more on endogenous values that had already been destroyed. This means that the little that exists, we must evaluate it. I believe that Adecob has already done so in the years 2012-2013, an evaluation of sites and tourism potential in Borgou and there is even a tourist circuit that has been drawn at this time. What remains for Adecob, if it has not yet been done, is to develop these sites, since tourism mobilizes many resources. Can even the eight communes of Borgou support tourism investments in Borgou? If so, Adecob should start to make a plea to the State to take into account this dimension in Borgou. This is the first possibility. The second is that, with the decentralization reforms, there is the Communal Investment Fund, which will replace Fadec. The FIC can enable communes to go and capture resources on international markets. This means that with good studies in the field of tourism and culture, the communes of Borgou together with Adecob can develop culture and tourism.

Two reactions: one on the return of the royal treasures and the other on the second act of decentralization, mainly the withdrawal of the authorization of the budget to the mayor.

Thank you very much! The return of the royal treasures is a relief and it shows the political will of our leaders to value if not to revalue our culture. And I am going to say that it shows the validity of the impetus that President Patrice Talon has taken by winking at the traditional chieftainships for its inclusion in the constitution. It is a declared will and I think that these treasures that have returned, it means that we have material artistically, culturally and touristically. It is a pride and a feeling of encouragement and congratulations to President Talon.

Regarding the structural reform in the sector of decentralization, mainly with regard to the withdrawal of budgetary authorization to mayors. Let us say that these reforms do not in any way take away local autonomy, which was already provided for in the decentralization texts. Personally, I think it is a salutary reform. What you are talking about is a separation of powers; that is to say that the mayor was the sole political, administrative and executive authority. It is the execution alone that has been taken away from him and given to another authority, the Executive Secretary, which is another body within the commune. But if you notice well, this Executive Secretary is, in one way or another, under the mayor. Let us say that all is not well at this level. The reform came about to energize the communes, which must demonstrate their capacity to drive development in their respective localities. The mayor is elected and under him he has a certain number of advisors. What I would like to see is that the SE is recruited from a national database, and after the three candidates have been drawn by lot, the mayor should be allowed to choose among the three candidates. This can be organized in the form of an interview, since there is the supervisory board that the mayor chairs. Because according to the law, the commune must be administered freely and moreover it is the communes that made their recruitment only when there was fantasy. Now, if the State wants to intervene to establish responsibilities, there is no problem. It is true that the relationship between the ES and the mayor is essentially functional. Why not give the mayor the possibility to evaluate the ES and if possible to dismiss him in case of insufficient results. This would take away from the authority of the mayor, for whom the majority has voted and who represents the whole municipality. This is a personal opinion.

Another thing to note is that the prefect, who is the supervisory authority at a given level, acts as both judge and party. In the process of dismissing the ES, it is said that the prefect can sit on the supervisory board. If he is the supervisory authority, let him be the supervisory authority and let the procedure initiated by the mayor for the dismissal of the ES be conducted entirely by the organs of the mayor's office, and then the prefect can act as usual as controller and judge. These are some of the observations I have in relation to this subject. The withdrawal of the budget in no way hinders development; on the contrary, it will even allow the mayor to go on to other fronts, but this is where the mayor needs to be equipped, because nowhere in the document do I see that the mayor has the power to do this.I have not seen anywhere in the document where a communication budget for the mayor is provided for, although he must communicate a lot administratively and politically as well. Even in the mobilization of resources he needs to communicate. The ES cannot succeed in its mission without the mayor and the local elected officials, the mayor must be given resources. There are examples that can be cited in certain communes in Benin where it is the authority of the mayor that has prevailed in the mobilization of own resources.

What is your final word?

Let us rely on our own strengths before others come to help us. My appeal to the populations of all categories is that we must get together around the local authorities to achieve development.

Interview conducted by Irédé David R. KABA

Did you like this article? Share it ...


Leave a comment

Your comment will be published after validation.