A PROUD receiver of the councillor’s badge Topel councillor Michael Puringi says in mixed English and Tok Pisin: “Mi kaikai or nogat, I am proud to be given the badge.”
Puringi’s excitement is shared by almost every councillor in the district.
The elated Puringi was never a fond admirer of the Imbonggu MP Pila Niningi’s administration as he was with the faction of councillors led astray by the self-proclaimed president Robert Dopo.
A badge, a cowboy hat and suit was all it took for Niningi to bridge the divide and restore hope and confidence among the members in his local level government.
A badge and uniform were traditionally the government itinerary for councillors but had stopped years back probably due to lack of funding.
Thanks to the local MP – the Inter-Government Relations Minister – for looking after the councillors.
On the same vein, the minister made an undertaking to clear the red tape and have the councillors’ allowances factored into the main public service pay system so that their salaries are consistent.
While this comes as a great news and relief for councillors not only in Imbonggu but throughout the country, it will require budget appropriation, planning, database and of course, some fair deal of work.
The silver badge carved in the shape of a medieval knight’s shield took a special place in our society at some point in time. The badge meant a lot back then.
To some, it was a badge of honour and was proudly worn as an ornament and for others, it was a symbol of power and prestige.
At some instances, a councillor with the glittering silver badge was a sheriff, peace mediator, leader, police and Elvis Presley all cocooned in one.
That’s right, wherever the badge went, a stream of broken hearts followed. Today, that respect is no longer there.
A councillor is just another member of the nearly dying third tier of government in our revolving system of government.
Niningi’s proposal to resource and rejuvenate the subnational government is a worthy call.
It would need structure and institutional reform to meet the changes of time and its demand.