The Executive Director of the Rural Initiatives for Self-Empowerment- Ghana (RISE-Ghana), a Bolgatanga based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Mr Awal Ahmed Kariama, has stressed the need for citizens participation in the governance process to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of public resources.
According to him, citizens would be in a better position to demand accountability from duty bearers when they have better understanding of the governance process.
He expressed the worry that often times, citizens were left out from the governance process, hence allowing duty bearers and public officials to take them for a ride.
Mr Kariam made the remarks when he addressed a public durbar at the Sirigu community in the Kasena Nankana West District in the Upper East Region.
The durbar, dubbed: “Promoting social accountability through citizens participation in local governance in Ghana” is being funded by Open Society for Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) through the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana).
The programme, which was held on the theme: “Building transparency, participation and feedback around local government budgeting and planning systems” brought together chiefs, opinion leaders, and the entire members of the Sirigu community.
The programme is aimed at increasing demand for transparency, participation and feedback in local government planning and budgeting processes through increased citizen participation.
An official from RISE-Ghana explaining a point to the gathering at Sirigu
It is being implemented in 20 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) across the nation.
Mr Kariam said RISE-Ghana as an NGO with a focus to facilitate knowledge sharing and skills acquisition for self-help and sustainable development, the NGO would continue to implement projects that would equip citizens with the right information.
That, he said, would empower poor people’s movements economically and socially to live in dignity.
“This project is very timely and relevant and for us at RISE-Ghana. We are particular grateful to CDD-Ghana and OSIWAS for the opportunity to be part of this innovative project which has the twin aim of nurturing local Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) like us to champion social accountability, as well creating the enabling environment for citizens to participate in decentralization for increased responsiveness and accountability from Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAS)”, he said.
In addition, Mr Kariam said, “even though the decentralisation framework requires the creation of District Education Committee (DEC) in all MMDAs, most of them have not formed this committee”, pointing out that through the project, CDD-Ghana, has formed and trained a 10-member DEC who are performing their mandate of educating citizens on the decentralization process and their role in the district.
A woman asking a question at the durbar
He has, therefore, urged citizens to use the budget committees of their respective districts to channel proposals for consideration and demand implementation of audit findings and recommendations.
He commended OSIWA and CDD-Ghana for their continued support towards ensuring transparency and accountability in local governance process in the country.
A participant at the durbar, Mr Theophilus Adakema, commended RISE-Ghana and CDD-Ghana for the initiative, saying the project would help people at the community and assembly levels, particularly the youth to have more insight into the governance process.
“This durbar is an eye opener, it has made my people understand that the District Assemblies do not just collect money, sit and share among themselves but must follow a due process and also account regularly to the people”, he said.