2.6. Local Administration

Development of agriculture requires that local government units contribute to planning, coordination and execution of schemes at the local level. Currently, the administration of the country is highly centralized in the person of the President who is, for local administration, assisted by the Department of Internal Affairs. Planning is done completely at government level, i. a from above, and communication is almost exclusively of the up-down type. The late President's habit of touring the country and of holding palavers was probably the most important means of a down up communication.

As regards administration, the country is divided into 9 counties with a Superintendent as administrative chief. He is the personal representative of the President in the county and is always a man on whom the President can rely. The Superintendent is responsible for the application of law and the maintenance of peace and order. He supervises the collection of taxes. The county level staff of the different departments sends copies of all their reports to him. He seems to be little involved in the direct decision making process of these departments in matters concerning his county. Coordination between the different technical services exists only on a personal basis, while there are no institutional provisions. Counties are divided into Districts under a Commissioner who is responsible to the Superintendent.

At the lower level, local administration is in the hands of the traditional tribal authorities. The highest rank is that of Paramount Chief who is elected by the chiefs and elders but who serves at the discretion of the President who may veto the election. He is supported by the council of elders which he has to consult on all important matters. The Paramount Chief is responsible for the maintenance of law and order and has to enforce the tribal customs. He has to assist in the tax assessment and supervises the collection of taxes by the lower rank chiefs. The law also requests him to promote agriculture, industries, trade and welfare, but, when discussing with chiefs, one gets the impression that this is limited to control that the activities do not coincide with the law, the tribal customs or the interest, of other people. The Clan Chiefs; Town Chiefs' and Quarter Chiefs' responsibilities are about the same in their respective units. Chiefs are apparently still influenced by the existing secret societies insofar as observance of tribal customs is concerned.

It is very difficult to judge the power of the chiefs. They are not government employees, but retain part of the taxes for their services and part of the levies for local projects. Traditionally, their power is largely determined by their control (not ownership) of land. The notion of the State as supreme owner of land and the fact that Government took possession of the land
without the chiefs being able to hinder this, has weakened their position which, today, seems, to quite an extent, to depend on the individual personality.

The current organization of the local administration shows all the character istics of a tax-law-order administration, and the administrative body, from the President's personal representative to the elders' councils, seems to be well suited for this purpose. It lacks, however, the necessary factors for rural development: involvement of the population, planning and coordination at the local level, influence of technicians and up-down as well es down -up communication channels.