Seven weeks ago, this column discussed the need for non-performing Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) to be shown the exit.
My argument was that being at the forefront of development, particularly at the local level, the actions or inaction of MMDCEs could mar or undermine the performance of any government and make it look unpopular in the very eyes of the citizenry.
That is why extra care must be taken in selecting who become our MMDCEs.
It, therefore, came as no surprise when the names of chief executive nominees for the 260 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) were finally dropped last Sunday.
Some 132 serving MMDCEs were replaced, compelling many local governance experts to proffer different interpretations and meanings.
That notwithstanding, it stands to reason that the President, in his last term of office, will be counting on the nominees to bring rapid development to the grass roots, communities and towns across the country.
Why so much fetish?
Prior to the release of the names of nominees, there had been so much anxiety and tension. Already, we have seen agitation and protests at places including Odododiodoo in Greater Accra, Chereponi in North East and Asokore Mampong in Ashanti.
This is not the first time we are experiencing such pockets of violence with the announcement of MMDCE nominees. Such things keep occurring in our democratic journey.
What does all these negative reactions tell us? Do we really understand the functions of the MMDAs, and for that matter the MMDCEs? Do the protests really mean that citizen’s expectations were not met, for which reason they desire to elect their own MMDCEs?
This may be a wake-up call for the need to review the Constitution to probably allow the people to elect their own MMDCEs.
It would be recalled that the President attempted to organise a referendum for the election of MMDCEs on December 17, 2019 but had to withdraw the plan on December 2, 2019 for lack of concensus.
The negative reactions are not good and the earlier we do something about the situation, the better for us as a country, moving forward.
Whether we will elect our MMDCEs or not, one thing must be clear — whatever system we adopt must be inclusive and participatory.
As I indicated in the write-up on non-performing MMDCEs, the driving spirit behind any local government regime is to involve the citizenry in decision-making and the expected everyday interaction with the citizenry starts with MMDCEs.
For now, whether we like it or not, it is the constitutional mandate of the President to nominate for approval the various MMDCEs, and until otherwise there cannot be any justification for lawlessness.
Article 243 (1) of the 1992 Constitution requires the President to solely appoint a chief executive for every district, with the prior approval of not less than two-thirds majority of members of the assembly present and voting at the meeting.
Now that the nominees are out, we cannot discount the fact that some interested candidates may still go to the extent of masterminding the disapproval of nominees by the assemblies.
There is work ahead and nothing must be done to frustrate development at the grass-root level.
Per their functions, MMDCEs and MMDAs are expected to broadly exercise political and administrative authority in the district, provide guidance and give direction to and supervise all other administrative authorities in the district.
The assemblies thus exercise deliberative, legislative and executive functions.
In so doing, they are entirely responsible for the overall development of the assemblies and shall ensure the preparation and submission, through the regional coordinating councils, of development plans of the districts to the National Development Planning Commission for approval; and of the budget of the districts related to the approval plans to the Minister for Finance for approval, as well as formulate and execute plans, programmes and strategies for the effective mobilisation of the resources necessary for the overall development of the districts. These are huge responsibilities
I trust our President, who is in his second term of office, did not take anything for granted and chose carefully the nominees for MMDCEs.
It is obvious the appointment process has not been easy for both the appointing authority and even the would-be MMDCEs. But now that we have our MMDCEs in the making, the expectation is that we will quickly complete the processes of confirmation by the various assemblies and carry on the work of nation- building.