Dialogue on assembly elections held in Accra
Professor Ahwoi cited instances in East Africa which had created ethnic and tribal hegemony and preponderance of the majority against the minority with deep-seated animosity and conflicts.
He said considering the political history of the country which was divided along the lines of federalism to a unitary state during the struggle for independence, the people should be spared any attempts to draw them back to ethnic divisions.
Professor Ahwoi also argued that some of the recommendations by the constitutional review committee on the decentralisation process should be subjected to thorough debate for policy intervention and not necessarily through legislation.
According to him, those arguing for the election of MMDCEs did not understand the intricacies of governance and, therefore, did not have the requisite experience in the matter.
Prof. Ahwoi said until people, especially women, were empowered to actively participate in local governance, no legislation would compel them to take active part in the process.
He queried what would happen in a situation where women were given a quota in either Parliament or the district assemblies and they were unable to fill those positions. He thus called for continued sensitisation to encourage women to offer themselves for elections.
The Head of the Local Government Service, Dr Callistus Mahama, said nothing prevents agents of political parties, opinion leaders, traditional rulers, the clergy, among others from influencing decisions at the local level.
He said the winner-takes-all system should also be addressed to enhance the level of participation of the people in local governance.
Dr Mahama also called for the strengthening of grassroots institutions such as the unit committees to enable the people feel the impact of decentralisation.
He said the non-partisan district assembly had been practiced for over two decades and needed to be deepened to impact positively on the lives of the people.
The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Alhaji Collins Dauda, commended the NCCE for the research which highlighted some of the challenges of the assemblies.
A Deputy Director of Research of the NCCE, Ms Patience Sally Kumah, said the purpose of the study was to assess and identify the effectiveness of the performance of the district assemblies in the development agenda of the country.