The President of National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG), Bismark Nkum has called on Parliament to reignite processes that will permit the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs).
Speaking in an interview, he said President Akufo-Addo’s second term is the best time for the process which was aborted in 2019 to be reconsidered.
He further explained that Parliament needed to be careful as “it is not about the interest of the political parties but about the interest of the entire country”.
Building a national consensus on the election of MMDCEs in the President’s second term, Mr. Nkum said it will be convenient, as the two major political parties have equal numbers in Parliament.
“2021 the process should start and obviously it will take Parliament to move the nation forward. If we are going for a referendum and we have the two major political parties refusing to reach an agreement, how can we move forward as a nation?
“So Parliament should try as much as possible to use their strength to galvanize support for this cause. So that as a nation we can elect our MMDCEs”.
Mr. Nkum held the view that, newly elected Members of Parliament should also collaboratively work for the interest of Ghanaians.
“The people of Ghana elected them (Parliamentarians) not for their personal benefit or their political parties but for the benefit of the governed. So every decision by the legislature or executive should be in the collective interest of the people.”
Additionally, he lamented the slow pace at which the country is moving in comparison to neighboring countries who have progressed taking a leaf out of the governance book of Ghana.
“Within the continent, others who copied the democratic practices from Ghana have gone ahead of us and I always cite Sierra Leone as an example.
“They copied our local government system, and they have gone ahead such that their mayors are elected by their localities. They are not appointed by the President”.
He noted as an example that the Mayor of Freetown in Sierra Leone belongs to the opposition party in the country but “they have found a way to co-exist. Why can’t we do the same as a country?”
President Akufo-Addo in 2019 cancelled the national referendum which sought to decide on an amendment of Article 55 (3) of the Constitution to enable political parties to sponsor candidates during local level elections.
The President attributed the decision to the absence of “a durable national consensus” on the matter following consultations.
“In these circumstances, I am convinced that it will not serve the public interest to go ahead with the holding of the public referendum on 17th December even though I believe a strong campaign for a YES vote would have succeeded. This is not the kind of atmosphere in which the repeal of an entrenched provision of the Constitution should take place”.
He also directed the Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Hajia Alima Mahama to withdraw the Bills seeking to amend Articles 55 (3) and 243 (1).
“It is with deep regret that I have given instructions to the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development…to abort the process and see to the withdrawal of the Bills for the amendment of the constitutions both in respect of Article 243 (1) and Article 55 (3)”.