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DECENTRALISATION...Time to hand back power to local government

Posted by OMANBA on Sun, 12/14/2008 - 11:15

As the dawn of a new government approaches, perhaps its time to get our brooms and dusters out and give our organs of government a spring clean.
Ghana has seen too many years of Centralised governance. Our Unicameral legislature is seen to be very inclusive in terms of party politics but also has the tendency of being electively dictatorial. But the most worrying fact is that in enforcing its duties, Parliament in Ghana does not give local governments their due and the independence they require for a proper representation of the people and their right to a fair share of the national cake.

‘’Election flash in the pan’’
Never have so many constituencies come to the fore like election time. If you didn’t know your ODODODIODO CONSTITUENCY from your ASEMBABA DABI CONSTITUENCY you get a baptism of education in that one time. However give it a few weeks for the excitement of choosing a new government to die down and most of them will dwindle into the shade. In those times what will the district assemblies, local assemblies, civil servants and citizenry reps be doing until the next election? The answer is simple… they will have to melt into the shadows, tow the line, and watch and pray that a ballot is cast in their favour at Parliamentary level before a local issue can be resolved. And that is only if they are lucky to have an MP who is a blazing fire brand spewing forth fire and brimstone and talking himself hoarse at sittings. In the absence of such an MP, then the constituency might as well just shrivel and die because they wont be heard of nor feel the amazing grace of relief from central government.

‘’Local Governments knows local issues’’
Who better to deal with local issues than local government? They are right on the doorstep of the citizens of the constituency and have the systems in place under their charters (CENTRAL GOVT PERMITTING OF COURSE) to run the day- to- day affairs of their people and know where the problems are and perchance how to resolve them et all. Not allowing them to do so often culminates in exclusion of certain areas, lack of participation in their local affairs and the choice in determining their own development needs and priorities.

‘’Ghanaian Governments fear delegation…Fact’’
To an observer, the whole ideology of governance has descended into a power struggle. To be on top means to hold the keys to all but how can one or a few people do it all and know it all? That is the question!
This is why there is always public outcry against Administrations when they come into power because the work in progress often gets scattered, showered and broadcasted in uncertain terms and elective planning so some get it and others don’t. And we all know who the losers tend to be…the rural areas! Would this be the same areas that we continually turn to for maximum votes? Food for thought.

''There is bias and disregard''
Ask the average man on the street if they really understand our constitution and their civic rights and obligatons and the answer you will get is a negative. At the most, the information systems in place are geared towards urbanites so a majority of the populace are always in the dark and un-informed about policies all the time. Therefore when politicians go out pushing down their manifestos down the throat of electorates, is it then just a question of speaking to the blind and the deaf? It is no wonder then that the whole process of choosing a new government centres more on sensationalism and mud slinging in a bid to see who shouts the most. In the absence of that there is no serious business of possible inclusion of the electorates, the grass roots, the local representation and their utmost needs when the ascendency to power happens. Now this can't be good in a democratic environ where leaders have been chosen by the powerful mandate of the people.

''Something has to give''
Power to the people is not what it seems. We are all puppets under the masterful hands of a few elite who are steerig affairs from the top. If a true representation of the people has to happen, then i say let the local people have a say in their local affairs!


Complete decentralization

This issue has been bothering me for years. We need complete decentralization if we want to see real changes in our communities. I think every town should run its own business. Instead of having DCE's who are appointed, every town should have mayors who would be elected to run the towns. Mayors would have to make sure their towns have basic necessities..good roads, good sewage and drainage system, closed gutters, good schools, libraries, street lights that work, emergency response system, well equiped hospitals, fire service, police and clean environment. It's so frustrating that some areas in Dansoman have dirt roads and poor town planning in this age. Having a centralised gov't is one thing Nkrumah got wrong!



Accra, Sept 23, GNA - The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development on Wednesday outlined a plan of action to review the decentralization process in the country.

The review process would begin with regional consultative meetings attended by identifiable interest groups to review all relevant reports and documents processed two decades ago and receive submissions from technocrats with adequate know-how in the decentralization programme. They would also review the Public procurement, Internal Audit, Ghana Health Service and the Ghana Education Service Acts which were currently bedevilled with technical challenges and loop-holes. Mr. Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development announced these when interacting with the media as part of the consultative and educational programme built into the review process in Accra.

He said in furtherance of the NDC manifesto to provide a "Better Ghana", three areas; Deepening local level democracy, accelerating decentralization and facilitating local level development and empowerment were identified to overhaul some of the policies that had outlived their usefulness since the decentralization programme started twenty years ago.

Mr. Chireh said the three- month process would also hold consultative meetings with chiefs, women groups, parliamentarians and other civil society organizations and political institutions to make it more representative.

He called on all those with inputs to submit to do so devoid of political colouration, religious affiliation, and gender considerations. The Local Government Minister appealed to media organizations to support the review exercise by publishing and advertising their programmes and itinerary throughout the country. He said his outfit would develop a website that would upgrade all information on the review process and urged stakeholders to contribute meaningfully to it.

Dr. Esther Ofei- Aboagye, Director of the Institute of Local Government Studies, said democracy was being entrenched in the country because of consultations and tolerance and called on all stakeholders to deal with all the issues devoid of partiality. She said if all issues were impartially dealt with at all levels, it would go a long way to enrich democracy and decentralization in the country.Source:

Well if you ask me i think it has been a long time coming and something has to give. We cannot continue ignoring the fact that we have a Ministry of local Government in place whose duty it seems for decades is just cosmetic and being used blatantly by politcal parties to rally the various districts and constituencies once every four years for votes only to be snubbed as soon as centralised power is attained.
This is one Ministry that needs to be empowered because it embodies the voices of the masses from the various Constituencies about their need for a say in their local affairs and a bid to ask that the Centralised grip on us be loosened.

Having a Centralised system of governance hasn't worked for us for decades. Instead it has empowered a small cluster of people to be power drunk, money hungry and to have absolute power on who gets what and at times our inadequacies and deprivities have been use as pawns for developmental grants untold which never saw the light of day. Yet truth be said we are still here and not moved much. This has further culminated in some areas being sidelined and national development being run along political lines and this hasn't helped us much so we cannot stand by any longer and ignore it. Every Constituency in every corner of the country deserves its fair share of the national cake and the citizens thereof deserve a say in their developmental needs, the right to elect their local champions and the right to initiate, supervise and account for their projects without a centralised song and dance about it.

This will in turn ensure more cooperation and collaboration between citizens and their local governments, more openness in the public accounts system, more astute citizenry representatives devoid of the political benchmark, less hassle and absolute power conffered upon Central goverment and basically a chance for every citizen to feel they have a say in the development of the nation and not just baits for votes.
I totally disagree with the reference to any party manifesto past or present as a catalyst for this ongoing initiative for it is an unspoken wish of every Ghanaian citizen no matter what their political leanings, that the yoke of being deprived of a say in their own local affairs be lifted off them.
And so we shall wait and see if this initiative is not all talk and gloss. But one thing is for sure...from now on Decentralisation will be one of our loudest code words and demands before we consider voting any leaders into Central government.