The actions of some REOs are clouded by political allegiance and directives

Guest editorial by Norman Whittaker

The Regional Executive Officer cannot discharge his duties and responsibilities as head of an Administrative Region without accounting and reporting to the Regional Chairman and the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) on the implementation of the approved RDC projects and services.
Funds entrusted to the REO are to be applied only for the stated purposes as approved by the RDC in the first instant and in the National Assembly. In fact, RDC Councillors have a right and duty to question the propriety of any expenditure authorized by the Regional Executive Officer from RDC-approved funds.

Some REOs often times refuse to attend statutory meetings of the RDC, sending their DREOs instead. Many of these Officers are often not positioned to provide the required information /responses.

Several REOs continually display a lack of accountability and transparency in respect of the implementation of the Regional Budget. Progress updates on their RDCs’ Capital and Current Works are kept as a secret. Bills of Quantities are not circulated to RDC Councillors. The REOs here obviously believe they have a monopoly of the information in respect of these matters. Resultantly, many of them are insubordinate and disrespectful to the Regional Chairman; often refusing to provide answers to questions asked; even when given additional time to enquire and to respond is granted.

There have been verified reports of the work of several Regional Councils being undermined by their REOs vide the use of Regional Tender Boards; the splitting of contracts; use of REOs prerogative to reward APNU+AFC Cdes. There are also issues of REOs arbitrarily/unilaterally amending, altering, modifying and manipulating their RDCs’ approved Annual Estimates without RDC concurrence and seeking to justify their actions as being inherent in the Office they hold.

REOs are expected to help foster teamwork with the RDC, but most lack experience in managing publicofficeand/or else are often guilty of not supporting or facilitating the work of the RDCs and its Committees; and not ensuring that Officers attend  Regional Administrative Council (RAC), Standing Committee meetings etc. where Issues of accountability in respect of the implementation of the RDC’s Work Programought to be addressed and project updates re the RDC’s Capital and Current Works provided. These must not be seen as a closely guarded secret.

There are verified reports that meetings of the Regional Tender Board chaired by REOs are often convened in a harum scarum manner. Concomitantly, the overt flaunting of financial regulations and procurement procedures is very much evident among many of the REOs who know little or nothing of the relevant Laws and Regulations, Customs and Practice governing their mandate and who make very little effort to become familiar with them.

Contract splitting and awarding of contracts for the provision of goods and services to friends, relatives, known political supporters and lackeys of the APNU+AFC are apparent among some REOs who also refuse to provide BOQs, Tender Board minutes to the Regional Chairman, members of the RDC Works Committee etc so that they can help to monitor approved works done. REOs are also often tardy in responding to the directions of the RDC, viz: submitting Financial Reports

Add to these facts the many complaints of residents that are not addressed in a timely manner or not at all. The actions of some REOs are obviously clouded by political allegiance and directives which suggest that they are obviously playing an overt political role in regional governance.

Their protected positions seem to dictate that they are above the law and rules and regulations and thus are taking positions that are directly opposite to the needs of the people in the various communities.

But, may I inform readers that the Regional Democratic Council in each Administrative Region has overall responsibility for the administration of that Region. In this regard, the REO on whom responsibility for the execution of projects and the delivery of services in the Region devolves is accountable to the RDC.

It is for this reason and not by accident that the Regional Executive Officer serves also as the Clerk of the Regional Democratic Council.