Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Monday August 06, 2018
The Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) is strongly backing President Akufo-Addo to ensure that Article 55 of the 1992 Constitution is amended as a step towards strengthening the local governance system in the country.
Reforms under the current local governance system according to Dr. Emmanuel Akwetey, Executive Director of IDEG “are rather recentralizing power instead of the devolution of power,” and added that “the only way forward is to get Article 55 amended."
As a result, IDEG has commenced a national campaign aimed at mobilizing public participation and support for a successful implementation of the decision by the President to bring governance to the doorsteps of the people particularly through the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs).
At an interaction with selected journalists in Accra last Thursday on the amendment of Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution on the processes and implication for local governance reforms, Dr. Akwetey said “since the decision was announced on February 8, 2018, in the President’s message on the state of the nation to Parliament, we have been monitoring public discussions in the media,” adding “we have found the debate on whether holding multiparty local government elections interesting and also too election-centric and narrow.”
He said unless the public is made to understand the broader vision and strategic nature of the President’s decision, “successful implementation of the decision to amend Article 55(3) will be frustrated.”
Dr. Akwetey said IDEG would support an amendment that would complement “the commendable efforts of the sector ministry and other government agencies,” saying “widespread public awareness and deeper understanding of the goal and potential benefits of the President’s decision are critical to securing strong public approval for the amendment of the 1992 Constitution in the 2019 national referendum.”
He said amending Article 55 (3) to pave way for political parties to participate in District Level elections “would effectively put an end to the winner-takes-all system and replace it with more win-win regime for all.”
“Multiparty elections will empower the electorate to re-distribute the current 256 MMDCEs and MMDAs amongst the political parties,” he said, adding “more power and resources will be devolved to the MMDCEs and MMDAs for inclusive local development than has occurred so far under the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF)”.
A law don, Prof. Atsu Ayee, who among other things tackled the current preparations towards the upcoming national referendum that could see to the creation of more regions, said the timelines had been delayed.
He said “the amendment Bill should have been prepared before Parliament before it went into recess looking at the 2019 deadline. Parliament has a loaded agenda and what is the guarantee that the House can commence its work when the Bill is not brought on time.”
He said it was also not clear to him if the bi-partisan consultations have been done and added that public sensitization which he said is critical does not appear to have been done and asked the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to step up its ‘shepherding’ role in the entire process.