CEOs for the Assemblies: The President still doesn’t get it
By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Monday, July 29, 2013
My good friends, I have had cause to complain about the manner in which the Presidency is handling the nomination of CEOs for the Metropolitan/Municipal/ District Assemblies because of the tension and street demonstrations and vandalism that it has provoked.
I have drawn attention to the negative impact of such an approach and suggested that the President should reach out to the aggrieved people in the various communities to settle issues amicably. Dialogue and consultation are the best means to resolve the impasse. Even before the dust could settle, the government has come out with a statement and a directive that will definitely not stabilize the situation. Let’s know why.
1 PROTESTS AGAINST THE PRESIDENT’S NOMINEES
The government has directed the security agencies to ruthlessly deal with persons violently demonstrating and destroying properties in protest against the nomination of some Municipal and District Chief Executives (MCEs and DCEs). Local Government Minister, Akwasi Oppong-Fosu, says government condemns in no uncertain terms the violent approach adopted by some persons to register their displeasure.
“I disagree with the methods of some of our party members in terms of the violence associated with their protests”, he told Joy News. According to him, although the NDC members have the right to protest, they must not take the law into their hands by causing havoc.
He also dismissed suggestions that many of the President’s DCEs and MCEs are being rejected.
According to him, facts on the ground rather show that there have been minimal rejections relative to previous nominations. He said in the Greater Accra Region and Western Region, nominations received massive support, but admitted that only 2 nominations were rejected in the Western Region. “Like in the installation of chiefs... many interests come to play so we cannot have a situation where the entire interest groups within the party will all agree on one person or candidate”, he explained. He said the impression that there are massive rejections of all DCE and MCE nominations is false.
2. DIRECTIVE TO VACATE POST
The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr. Akwasi Oppong Ofosu has released a list of Metropolis, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) who have been asked to vacate their post.
A statement signed by the sector minister on Sunday said the affected MMDCEs are those who have not been re-nominated and have been directed to hand over to their respective Regional Ministers with immediate effect.
In all, 33 are affected and come from the Ashanti Region (6); Brong-Ahafo Region (4); Central Region (2); Great Accra Region (4); Northern Region (4); Upper-East Region (3); Upper-West Region (3); Volta Region (6); and Western Region (1). The statement did not give any reason for the government’s directive even though there is an explanation that they were not re-nominated.
I insist that the manner in which the Presidency is tackling these issues is disgusting and should not be sustained or encouraged. What Mr. Oppong-Fosu put out there is in a very bad taste.
1. What prevents the Presidency from reaching out to aggrieved people in the affected localities to assuage their fears, doubts, and suspicions so they can understand what is at stake? After all, the CEOS will need the cooperation and goodwill of the local people to administer affairs properly. They are being put in office to serve the people, not the appointing authorities or themselves. Democracy enjoins us all to jaw-jaw and not war-war. Antagonizing and alienating the people is not part of the democratic ideal that Ghana seeks.
2. What is about those “rejected” appointees that entices the appointing authority but repels the very people that they are being appointed to lead? Do these people owe allegiance to the people in the various communities or to the President nominating them? What for? Why?
3. If, indeed, we are interested in growing our democracy and ensuring that the local government structures mature, then, there is no need for this stringent approach. The Local Government Act (Act 462) should help the Assemblies gradually become self-accounting, meaning that they shouldn’t be so tied to the apron strings of Central Government in Accra. The difference can start being made at the level of CEOs to head the Assemblies. The local residents expect their CEOs to be people that they want to lead them, not anybody imposed on them, regardless of political party interests. That is the missing link in what has been unfolding all this while.
4. The government’s entrenched position won’t help it maximize political capital. After all, politics dwells on NUMBERS, especially if we recall what the Tain Constituency in the Brong-Ahafo region did to separate ex-President Mills from Akufo-Addo at Election 2008.
In all political set-ups, numbers count and the government must be wary of the situation that is fast developing as a result of its intransigence. It is sowing a bad seed now that will blossom into political liability at election time unless the situation changes for the better. Once these aggrieved people take a stand against the government for not being listened to, nothing will move them at election time. Why should the President’s decisions antagonize them now only for strenuous efforts to begin being made close to election time to attempt wooing these people for their votes?
5. Considering the rumpus (which Oppong-Fosu thinks is nothing to bother about), why can’t Parliament initiate moves to pass a law for these CEOs to be elected, after all? When the NPP mooted this idea before the 2000 elections, it was laughed off as an impossibility; in power, Kufuor couldn’t muster up enough political will to get a law passed on it; the late Mills couldn’t do it either; neither is there any indication that President Mahama will do it. But the reality is that if the people get the chance to elect their own CEOs, there will be no room for physical demonstrations and vandalism to register protests at those being imposed on them.
6. Couldn’t the government have been more civil and mature in removing these 33 CEOs from office without creating the impression that they are undesirables being got rid of unceremoniously? Over the years, appointments are made and removal from office done in too hostile a manner as to create the impression that we don’t respect each other. In a democracy, it shouldn’t be so.
7. Oppong-Fosu’s analogy regarding the installation of chiefs and many interests coming to play is idiotic in partisan political terms. Is he aware that the numerous chieftaincy disputes and social strife that we have in the country are caused by the inability of the kingmakers to use consultation and dialogue to settle on acceptable candidates? Is that what should motivate a government in its handling of this matter regarding the Assemblies? Even if there are diverse conflicting interests, can’t the government be diplomatic in handling the situation so it doesn’t antagonize as many people in as many localities all over the country as is the case now (and will intensify soon)? There are many other reasons why the method being used by the Presidency to handle this local government issue is wrong. I will continue to be brazen in saying that unless President Mahama doesn’t see what some of us have seen, he should dig in and antagonize the people all over the place. Then, when Election 2016 approaches, the government and NDC campaign team should do overtime, using every means available, to undo the harm that is being done today. Why do these people like making things difficult for themselves?
I shall return…
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