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January 19, 2020
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Vote Yes to Empower Local Authorities– NALAG Urges Ghanaians on Referendum

Mr Andrew Bediako

The National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG) has urged the general public to place a premium on the coming Referendum as a national project and massively vote Yes’ at the December 17, 2019, Referendum.

According to NALAG, the Yes vote to attain the constitutionally required outcome would ensure greater involvement of the citizenry in the decision-making process for good governance and speedy development at the local level.

The referendum, NALAG explained was not for the parochial interest of any particular political party but a provision in the 1992 Constitution as a means for Ghanaians to have the mandate to elect their Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDECs).

Mr Andrews Bediako, the Administrator of NALAG made the call when he addressed stakeholders and the general public in the Greater Region as part of a nationwide regional sensitization on the Referendum.

Mr Bediako conceded that, though the message of the referendum had not been well-communicated to members of the general public about the advantages and the disadvantages, that should not be grounds enough to abstained or vote No, adding that NALAG would continue with the sensitisation to get more support.

He said the stakeholders’ engagement had revealed that many Ghanaians thought it was rather the date for the election of MMDCEs.

This, Mr Bediako said encouraged NALAG to embark on the sensitization exercise for opinion leaders and the leadership of groups, organisations and communities to let them have to understand the message well and why they should vote yes.

Dr Nicholas Awortwi

The amendment of Article 55(3) would pave way for political parties’ participation in the District Level Election and consequently, Parliament would also amend the Article 243 (1) for the mandate to appoint MMDCEs by the President to change for the electorate rather elect them (MMDCEs) as their Superintendents at the local level.

The election of the MMDCEs would, therefore, become an underpinning factor and constitutionally, a political milestone and means of reforming the local governance system,” the NALAG Administrator said.

“This is a vital and the best opportunity amongst the lot for us to decide for ourselves and generations yet unborn, so let’s not waste it”.

“Let’s reciprocate the President`s goodwill, shown to Ghanaians by emphatically turning out and vote more than the required 40 per cent and 75 per cent “Yes” of the total votes cast”, he stressed.

He stressed that the benefits of elections the MMDCEs outweigh the current practices and that it would not only ensure accountability to the people but, also make some room for more competent people to get the chance to serve the people to facilitate socio-economic development.

Mr Bediako said other political progress to be derived from the election of MMDCEs as a nation would be the chance for opposition parties’ members to serve the people in the MMDCEs capacity as opposed to the current arrangements, which is the preserve of members of the ruling political party.

Dr Nicholas Awortwi, Director of Institute of Local Government Studies(ILGS) said absolute decentralisation is key to local development and that voting to Yes to amend the entrenched provision of Article 55(3) of the Constitution would strengthen the local governance system.
He explained, the local authorities do not have the powers to take development decision under the current dispensation but changing some through the referendum would pave way for the local assemblies to have some unilateral authority initiate and execute development projects without necessarily depending on the central government.
Some participants who spoke to THE REPUBLIC expressed concern of the poor communication on the part of authorities to explain the meaning of Yes and No, and their implications.

Mr Laryea Derock, the Presiding Member of Ledzorkuku Municipal Assembly said, the government should have explained to Ghanaians on details of the Bill currently before parliament before embarking on the referendum for people to vote Yes or No.

According to him, apart of the poor education on the issues, he believed opening the doors for assemblies members to be elected on partisan basis would further worsen the plight of rural folks as they would be elected assembly members would be thinking of how to regain his or her funds since they do not have fixed salaries as members of parliament.

Mr.Derock said, if not for anything, the government should first amend Article 24(1) before asking Ghanaians to vote at the referendum to amend Article 55(3).
Madam Comfort Ekuba, Queen Mother of Santana Market in Accra said, the poor education and sensitisation on the Yes and No votes is confusing many people.
She admitted that, until she participated in the stakeholders’ sensitisation program, she was confused as to what the Yes and No votes stood for.
She, therefore, urged the NALAG and the and the National Commission of Civic Education (NCCE) to extend the education on the referendum to markets to enlighten the people.

Participants at Referendum sensitisation in Accra

Source: thereoublicnewsonline.com/Felix Nyaaba

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