|Mayor Richard Tita Fombon|
“One can really achieve much during a second mandate”
Following is an interview Mayor Fombon granted to The Recorder Editor Christopher Ambe Shu,last week.
Mr. Mayor, when you were elected Mayor of Tiko in 2007, you promised to transform Tiko into a modern city .Can we know how far you have gone with the promised transformation?
Like you said when I took office I had all the visions and dreams to make Tiko a better city. From 2007 to 2010, I think I have done quite some work in
To transform anything does not come so easily .It does not come in a day. When we talk of transformation, it takes a while. It is not something that you sleep and then get up to find say a tarred road, or other new facilities in front of your door.
We have achieved quite a bit: we have worked on the stadium, constructed a ceremonial grand stand; improved some of our roads, constructed culverts, built bridges –just to name a few
When you took office your first budget for 2008, stood at FCFA 515 million, an increase of 5.9 against that of the previous year. What has been the budget situation of your council up to date?
Well you know that budgets are voted based on the previous administrative accaounts.Previous administrative accounts determine the next budget and that is also based on actual collection. If you see our budget up it means actual revenue collection is also going up.
I think in 2009, our budget went down. That was very strenuous on the council. We worked on it and I don’t think we performed poorly. The budget of 2010 was FCFA 419 million and that of 2011 has gone up. It is FCFA 518 million. Then, we have an annex budget of 1.2 billion
Would you say revenue collection is a major problem of Tiko Council?
I don’t think it is a major problem. It is a normal problem in all councils. The problem we have with revenue collection is just the fact that you have people in the field that you have confidence in, you realize on them but sometimes you realize that their actual collection does not reach the treasury. Those things happen, but we try to put checks here and there because one can not be everywhere all times.
Tiko market, I think, used to be your major source of revenue, but unfortunately several months ago it was completely reduced to ashes. What is the situation of the market now?
Yes, the market got burnt. That was a big blow to us; a blow to the municipality. The market was the main source of our revenue. We have accepted that situation and are trying to move on.
We solicited help from various ministries and the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization came in. Through FEICOM, they gave us about FCFA 500 million for the first phase of reconstruction. The reconstruction is in two phases. The first phase is the inner part of the market and the second the outer part of the market.
Upon assuming office, you very much talked about twining Tiko council with foreign cities. How far have you gone? What has Tiko council benefited from this partnership?
The truth is that we have tried as much as we can. But to actually twin with a council takes a while. Twining is a process and the process is really long. If you ask any other mayors they will tell you that it is not as easy as we think. We have done our best. We have contacted many foreign city councils- such as
Dallas City council, Oklahoma City council and several others in Europe. We are still on talking terms. We think that things will mature and materialize. It takes time. Knowing our people they just want things done now. But that is not how it works.
If I understand you well, are you saying that since you started twining, Tiko council has not yet benefited any thing?
Yes, I can actually say that. But the truth is that we are still on talking terms; the process is still on-going. I think with time we are going to benefit from that and when the benefits start coming they may not stop.
For more than two years now you are still on talking terms. Don’t you think this feet-dragging is because your target foreign cities have not seen anything that can benefit them in Tiko?
I don’t think so. Like I said it is quite a process .They have their own laws that govern their twining. Our discussions so far have been positive, because what we have to offer is what they need. I am optimistic it will work out sooner or later
What have you achieved so far as mayor that you can proudly cite any time without fear of contradiction?
When Ijust came to office that was when our football team-Tiko United, went to Elite One football. With that I spent to rehabilitate the Tiko stadium; now when it comes to gate-takings our stadium is one of the highest in the country. This is because of the work that was done in the stadium.
Now Tiko has a ceremonial grand-stand, which did not exist before; we have improved on our roads; constructed culverts in the municipalities; extended street light to some areas and rehabilitated street lights.
When I came into office, one of the things I advocated for was the cleanliness of the town. But I think in that respect, I have not been very successful-due to the fact that whatever you want to do, if you want people to do something different then you have to give them an alternative. I have not been able to come up with an alternative to the population on how to treat trash. I am still wooing HYSACAM. I don’t think I have been successful when it comes to hygiene and sanitation in Tiko. But that does not mean it can not be done or will not be done. Come 2011, I think it will be done because I am working closely with HYSACAM right now and I think at the beginning of next year, we should have HYSACAM in Tiko and the town will take its shape.
You also promised computerizing Tiko Council Office, increasing revenue collection base and the settlement of CNPS debts owed by your council. Have you achieved all these?
We bought some computers for the council but the office is not computerized the way I wanted it to be. Not that I did not want. This is because I am constructing a new council office, which will be modern and completely computerized.
I want to assure you that the debt the council owed the CNPS has been paid.Tiko council does not owe CNPS; does not owe Taxation service. The debt the council owes elsewhere is at the barest minimum. With the new law of decentralization and budget nomenclatures, we have been able to impute about 90 % of our debt in to the budget, we hope to clear all of these debts next year or by the end of our mandate.Tiko Council should be debt-free by the end our mandate.
Some people claim your leadership is divided. What is your reaction?
You know there are always detractors-people who must hate what you do- no matter how good or beautiful it is. Whoever comes up, he must have detractors. It is not only me. It does not bother or distract me. Critics will always be there. But it is sad when their criticisms are always destructive or negative. This is harmful to society and not to me as a person.
But do you welcome criticisms?
Of course. I am very open to criticisms. Being criticized makes me see my weaknesses, and work harder. Positive criticisms are good for the development of society.
Recently, Tiko council signed a convention with the Community-driven Development Program (PNDP).Can you tell us a bit about the convention?
We signed the convention so that the PNDP Southwest office can give us technical and financial assistance. So far, we have had a series of seminars with them.PNDP has already disbursed to Tiko council about FCFA 28 million as first part of the deal. And the second disbursement will come sometime next year, after we are done with the community development plan, because it from this plan that we will get the priority projects that will be financed.
What have you identified as the major obstacles that prevent you from totally executing your development blueprint for Tiko?
Apart from financial constraints, the major obstacle is the people themselves. Some people are not willing to understand; others are headstrong and they don’t want things done the right way.
Have you bothered to find out why they are hesitant to significantly collaborate with you for development sake?
Like I said before, these people who, no matter what you say or do, don’t see anything good in it. They are just bent on obstructing your development plans. They write and say all sorts of negative things about you just to discredit you. These are the people who make the public believe that we are not working for their good.
You have lived in the
for many years and you certainly know the force of the mass media in making or marring. How is your relationship with the media in USA ? Cameroon
I think I have a cordial relationship with the media. But I am not always out there for them, and so journalists don’t have access to me the way they want to.
It is not because I don’t like or want the media. It is because I think I should do things without making noise about them. I not really a media person, but I admit that the media is very important in society.
As a public figure, when you feature negatively in the media-be it audio-visual or print, how do you feel?
To me it is normal. It does not matter whether I feature in the negative or positive way. I welcome criticisms. The truth is that the media is there and will always write about whatever somebody brings to it. But professional journalists give objective reports and or criticism.
I am having fun in what I am doing and putting in my best. Nothing will distract me from doing the right thing.
What would you say is left to be done by you-the mayor?
There is a lot to be done. Like I said, just keeping Tiko clean is a lot to do. I think that will be done. We don’t have good roads, we will work on that. It is said that where a road passes, development follows. We still have a lot to do when it comes to roads.Tiko is very blessed in the sense that it is one of the towns with a good plan. It has planned out streets.
If we have the means we can do a lot of good things in Tiko.That is my goal, vision and dream
Do you have a new appeal to the Tiko population?
The only thing I can tell them is to have faith in the people they voted into power; they should just give us the chance to work; for, things will materialize.
Being a mayor you try as much as you can, but most of the things that you intend to achieve may not be achieved during the first mandate. Most of the things you do in the first mandate may just be planning. And by the time they start materializing you may be out of office. I think the time one can really achieve much is during a second mandate.
Are you politely asking for a second mandate? If The Tiko electorate asks you to stand for reelection as mayor, would you accept?
Of course, I obviously do because I would like to achieve what I had in store for them and do more. If I am given a chance, they won’t regret, as more good things will happen.
NB: First published in The RECORDER Newspaper,Cameroon ,of 3rd December ,2010