There has been a lot of debate about the election promise of the New Patriotic Party, NPP, to allow Ghanaians to elect Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assembly chief executives. From the promised date of 2019, now we are being told the election will happen in 2021.
President Akufo-Addo upon the assumption of office in 2017 toured parts of the country and met with various groupings including traditional authorities and the regional house of chiefs. He made it clear then that his government would ensure the election of MMDCEs soon. When the president opened an orientation and training workshop for his newly appointed MMDCEs at the Institute of Local Government Studies at Madina – Accra in early 2017, he made a categorical statement that, the election of MMDCEs would be held in 2018.
Meanwhile, the NPP’s 2016 Manifesto was very categorical that the “NPP will oversee direct election of MMDCEs within 24 months of election into office, to coincide with the next District Assembly elections in 2019.” So who should we believe now? The manifesto or the president?
Mr. O.B. Amoah, deputy minister for Local Government and Rural Development quickly came out to say the election of MMDCEs would come off together with the election of assembly members and unit committee members in 2019.
The 2019 date was obviously not realistic because the New Patriotic Party is not only looking at the national interest but its own interest as well in allowing for the election of MMDCEs. This is why I say so. Political party based election of MMDCEs in Ghana for the first time since the introduction of local governance and decentralization would obviously serve as mock election for the 2020 general elections to elect a president and parliamentarians.
The NPP government realising it is bound to lose in the majority of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies has decided to shift that election beyond the 2020 general elections. In fact, the NPP would have suffered a huge defeat in the hands of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), if MMDCEs were elected before 2020, a situation that would have sent bad signals and had lots of implications and influence on the 2020 elections.
There are obviously many Ghanaians woke up early at dawn, stood in the sun and voted for President Akufo-Addo and Dr. Mahmoud Bawumia based on the promise that MMDCEs would be elected by 2019. Now, they are all disappointed. Unfortunately, a vote once cast can only be “retrieved” after four years.
We all need to pile the pressure on the NPP to do the right thing and fulfil the campaign promise to allow Ghanaians elect MMDCEs. Where are the Media Coalitions and Civil Society Organizations in this very important area of development? Local Governance and Decentralization is one of the best tools for accelerated development, hence best standards and practices needed to be encouraged within globally accepted frameworks. This is important if we can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This government has shown in the past that if they want to push something that benefits them through, they go against all odds to get that done. It would be recalled that, even before she could be vetted by parliament as substantive minister for the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama issued a letter sacking all the Mahama MMDCEs contrary to the laws. She later went to parliament and got Section 10 of the Local Governance Act t of 2016, Act 936, amended to allow her to revoke the appointment of all government appointees to the MMDAs and went ahead to replace all of them.
Why can’t the NPP government apply the same zeal to cause the election of MMDCEs in 2018 as stated by the President or in 2019 according to Hon O. B. Amoah? Why are they not changing the laws to allow for this? What is stopping them? What are they afraid of?
By James Gunu,
Former District Chief Executive, Akatsi North.