The Head of the Local Government Service (LGS), Dr Nana Ato Arthur, has called for the 30 per cent appointment of members to metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) by the government to be scrapped.
He said the purpose for which the constitution made that provision had been defeated because it was counterproductive as ruling parties nominated people who lacked the competence required to run the assemblies.
"The framers of the constitution envisaged that technocrats and professionals such as teachers, engineers will be appointed to bring their expertise to bear on the assemblies but we have witnessed a situation where ruling parties appoint their women organisers, youth organisers and other party people who lack competence to the assemblies.
So, if we begin the election of MMDCEs, we should just scrap it and allow all the assembly members to be elected," he stressed.
He made the call at a panel discussion on the "30 years of decentralisation in Ghana: Challenges and prospects," at the New Year School and Conference at the University of Ghana in Accra today (January 17).
Other discussants at the event were a consultant and former Director of the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS), Dr Esther Offei-Aboagye, and the Dean of Studies and Research at the ILGS, Dr Eric Oduro Osae.
For his part, Dr Osae said the position of assembly member must no longer be on a part-time basis since the current system affected the proper functioning of MMDAs.
He observed that assembly members were the key players in the effective functioning of local assemblies so they needed more time to represent their communities well.
In addition, he said the election of presiding members to the MMDAs should not be reduced to partisanship because people who occupied that position ought to be competent and experienced to deliver on the job.
He also stressed that the election of MMDCEs was the way to go to strengthen governance at the local level.
Dr Offei-Aboagye described Ghana's 30-year decentralisation journey as largely successful, but stressed that the current road map for the election of MMDCEs must be followed religiously to further strengthen the gains.
She said the decentralisation system had helped to build the capacity of people at the local level and provided space for locals to participate in the development process.
She added that it had also helped to bring harmony among local people and removed factionalism.
She, however, noted that there were still challenges with the mobilisation of revenue at the local level as well as the involvement of traditional rulers that needed to be addressed.
Dr Offei-Aboagye also stated that more efforts must be made to integrate the delivery of services such as education and healthcare to the local system rather than the centralisation of such services.
She also called on the MMDAs to devise an effective communication mechanism to disseminate information to all locals.
Aside that, she said it was important for the local assemblies to make use of the right technology to improve on service delivery.
The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), Hajia Alima Manama, urged all stakeholders to support the road map for the election of MMDCEs.
She urged the Electoral Commission (EC) and the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) in particular to prepare towards the upcoming referendum for the election of MMDCEs.
"It is important that we make the election of our MMDCEs happen because if people can decide who governs them at the national level, they equally should be able to do so at the local level," she stressed.