Improving Ghana’s democracy: Revamping the local gov't base

Mon, 10 Mar 2014 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Folks, I have said it several times that until local government improves to prop up our democracy, we will continue to lag behind and be content with the mediocrity that has characterized this 4th Republic.

There is much hue and cry about the Electoral Commission’s inability to conduct district-level elections this year to put in office Assembly men and women.

Parliament has already summonsed Dr. Afari-Gyan to appear before it to clarify issues. Even before he does so, the Deputy Minority Chief Whip, Ignatius Baffour Awuah, is warning of serious administrative crisis at the various metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies if government fails to resource the Electoral Commission (EC) to organize the district level elections.

(Source: http://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2014/March-7th/administrative-crisis-looms-if-ec-fails-to-conduct-district-elections-mp-warns.php)

The problem, to me, goes beyond the so-called administrative lapses or fears that the CEOs of the Assemblies might do things their own ways to endanger local government.

We appreciate the contributions of the Assembly men and women to local government but wish that the real substance on which our democracy should depend at that lowest level of the three-tier administrative regimen will be identified and introduced to strengthen governance.

The election of CEOs for the Assemblies is a must. Then, the discontinuation of nominations or appointments by the President should be initiated and supported so the Assemblies can do things to serve their peculiar purposes.

Also, the major towns and cities should have their own Mayors and other administrative staff elected and be made accountable to the people.

It also means decentralizing such security institutions as the Police Service, Prisons Service, Fire Service, etc. to make them more functional in the various districts, municipalities, and metropolises.

Also, the education sector should be decentralized for every locality to be responsible for the management of affairs and the appointment of Boards of Education for that matter.

For far too long, lip-service has been paid to local government at the expense of real and substantive democracy.

If the EC cannot organize the elections because of lack of funds, something reasonable must begin being thought of with which to enrich our democracy.

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.