The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) has reignited the call for the election of chief executives of metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs).
That, it said, would enhance democratic governance in the country and improve accountability at the district level.
It explained that citizens’ ability to elect their leaders at the district level would deepen the accountability of chief executives of the MMDAs, ensure inclusive development and improve public services at the local assemblies.
“I think it’s taking way too long and I hope that very soon, processes will be put in place for us to get to that point where we elect the heads of local government because I feel that it will go a long way to ensure that citizens have a better understanding of the democracy and decentralisation of government as we practise today,” the Chairperson of the NCCE, Kathleen Addy, said in an interview with the Daily Graphic last Thursday (August 24).
She said the election of MMDCEs would enable a deep understanding of the governance structure in the democracy that is practised in the country.
She added that it would get the electorate and the citizens to understand that their share of the national cake rests on the assembly and that the assembly was there to serve them.
Ms Addy said that would also help increase citizen participation in the district-level elections (DLE) and also reduce voter apathy that characterised such elections.
She further urged Ghanaians to demand accountability from the assemblies and make sure that the assembly system worked perfectly to serve them.
“As a Ghanaian citizen, your share of the national cake, which is the district common fund, is managed by the assembly.
Therefore, you have every right to ask them what they use such funds for.
As community members, you have every right to tell your assembly member what your priorities are and let them know how you want them to disperse funds that come to them,” Ms Addy stated.
She also said the first step to demanding accountability was for citizens to take the DLE very seriously.
At NCCE, she said the staff were doing their best to ensure that people saw the importance of the DLE.
“This year, we are putting great emphasis on social media because that is where most people get information from.
So, if you go to our pages, you will see heaps of messages, public education and aspects of the Local Government Act that people need to understand what they have to do,” she said.
That notwithstanding, she said the commission was still actively working in the communities to whip up people’s interest in the elections.
“We are making announcements in the markets, places of worship and other public places to remind people about why it is so important to get involved in the DLE,” Ms Addy said.
Fixed date for DLE
She also called for a fixed date for the DLE to help address the general apathy that had characterised local elections in the country.
Some Civil Society Organisations are calling on Parliament to come out with a specific date dedicated to the DLE, just like the national elections.
“We should know way ahead of time when the election would be.
It is better for planning and preparation.
If we have a fixed date, we can set out the plans and preparations in a way that corresponds with the date.
I hope that they’re able to go through the processes needed to ensure that it is done.
I don’t think this is an extreme request, I think it is achievable and if it can be done, it will help a lot,” Ms Addy said.