A pact to reform

BY: Caroline Boateng
Library photo
Library photo

“Power sweet,” it is often said in reference to all the trappings associated with power.

Because of that , rarely do African presidents relinquish any of the power they have, but President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has highly been commended for setting an agenda to let go some of his own executive powers.

He pledged it in his party's manifesto, when he promised the election of metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs), if he was voted for the highest office of the land.

Winning the prize, President Akufo-Addo has not reneged on his promise, but has ensured progressive steps towards that commitment through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD).

“Perhaps the most definitive stance on the election of MMDCEs is the directive by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in his message on the state of the nation delivered to Parliament on February 8, 2018 that the entrenched Article 55 of the 1992 Constitution should be amended in a referendum to pave the way for the direct election of MMDCEs on party basis,” a paper by the Institute of Democratic

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Governance ( IDEG) titled: Three decades of decentralised local governance in Ghana: Where are we now ? What more needs to be done? states.

Indeed, the President has decided to relinquish his power to appoint 256 MMDCEs across the country.

He has decided to cut the patronage, and the lobbying by Ghanaians to get a relative, friend or associate, appointed to that position.

He has decided to risk his comfort and peace of mind by letting the electorate choose for themselves their local President.

The person might not like the President, but could be popular in his community, hence the electoral victory to govern.

In such a case, Ghanaians being Ghanaians, how will the person’s relationship with the President be like?

Would he owe any allegiance to the President of the country at all since he was not appointed by the latter?

When it comes to policy, how will the local president deal with the ideas of the national President that he or she is not in favour of?

What makes most local governance practitioners even more queasy in the stomach is how a hostile local president (elected MMDCE) can sabotage the national one in relation to security.

MMDCEs head the municipal, metropolitan and district security structures; will a national President be safe in an enclave known as a die-hard opposition quarter of himself and he or she stands for?
Will he visit such areas on tours?
It will be a far cry from what we are used to now, because, really, there will be no crowds to eulogise him for anything, with a hostile elected MMDCE.

But the dire picture painted here regardless, the President keeps stressing his commitment to Ghanaians with regard to the election of their local authorities.

Ghanaians, on the other hand, are watching and waiting for the realisation of that agenda of electing MMDCEs by 2020.

They hope that no one throws a wedge in processes to amend provisions such as Article 55(3), which is entrenched in the Constitution and silent on Parliamentarians’ role in processes.

IDEG, thinking through challenges, has, however, proposed a sort of pact among parliamentarians.

The pact will be in keeping with the President’s goodwill in committing to curtail some of his own powers.

It is a pact among the people's representatives to unite to see this commitment into fruition.

It is a pact for Members of Parliament to agree that although the Constitution might be vague about their roles in amending entrenched provisions, they will get together to endeavour to couch a common approach in dealing with any constitutional gaps and make progress for the realisation of the people’s desire.

According to IDEG, there would be multiple and positive results of a smooth amendment to a provision that was not in sync with the general aspiration for development.

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