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Two hundred and fifty-nine metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) were yesterday inaugurated across the country for a four-year tenure aimed at fostering local development and governance.
Thirty per cent of the assembly members were appointed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who would, together with members of parliament and district chief executives constitute the assembly in the various MMDAs.
They have the mandate to deliberate, plan, mobilise resources and make decisions to ensure transformation of their districts during their term of office.
President Akufo-Addo, whose speech was read on his behalf by the Local Government Minister, Dan Botwe, during the nationwide inauguration of assembly members and unit committee members of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly, stressed the importance of local governance.
He congratulated all elected assembly and unit committee members and highlighted the constitutional mandate to promote decentralisation and citizen participation in governance, emphasising the critical role of District Assemblies in bringing government closer to the people.
The President acknowledged the progress made since the decentralisation reforms began in 1988, culminating in the inauguration of 259 District Assemblies out of a total of 261.
Highlighting the importance of the District Assemblies in implementing government programmes, he encouraged alignment with national and sectoral policies.
President Akufo-Addo emphasised the need to change the perception that citizens should rely solely on Accra for services, calling for continuous capacity building and citizen sensitisation on decentralisation and local governance principles.
Addressing the leadership challenges at the district level, Akufo-Addo acknowledged resource constraints and promised efforts to address them.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina in the Greater Accra Region, Francis-Xavier Kojo Sosu, called for a consensus among relevant stakeholders to reconsider the decision to select metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) through popular elections, reports Maclean Kwofi.
He explained that the disagreement on whether the elections should be held on partisan basis or not should not prevent the referendum seeking to amend parts of the Constitution to pave way for the election of MMDCEs.
Speaking at the fourth inauguration of the La Nkwantanang-Madina Municipal Assembly ((LaNMMA)) in Accra yesterday, Mr Sosu said selecting the MMDCEs through popular elections would enhance democratic governance in the country and improve accountability at the district level.
“It is time for Ghana to reconsider our MMDCEs to be elected through popular elections and this is important because it makes them directly accountable to the people they serve.
“Unfortunately, we have a situation where a sitting member of parliament goes to the people to solicit for votes.
And for that reason the people will bring before the MP their developmental challenges which should be handled by the MMDCEs.
Mr Sosu said the underlying purpose of decentralisation was to bring governance to the local level for every citizen, but unfortunately the citizens sometimes did not get the full benefit of the decentralisation efforts.
That, he said, was because power and resources were heavily concentrated on the central government, making it difficult to accelerate development at the local level.
“As we speak the major concerns at the communities including roads, gutters, flood should be handled by the MMDAs yet they do not have the capacity to deal with them.
The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Kwaku Ampratwum-Sarpong, who represented the President at the inauguration, congratulated the assembly and unit committee members for their success at the elections.
He stated that the assembly represented by its members had been given the authority to plan, mobilise resources, make decisions through bye laws to ensure the transformation of the municipality.
The Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of LaNMMA, Jennifer Dede Adjabeng, said the decentralisation enshrined in the Constitution aimed to encourage communal participation in the local government system by bringing governance to the doorsteps of the people.
In all, 98 members, made up of 15 elected assembly members, eight government appointees and 75 unit committee members were sworn in at the inauguration by the Magistrate of the Madina District Court, Rosemary Abena Gyimah.
At Amasaman, 24 elected assembly members and eight government appointees in the Ga West Municipal Assembly were sworn into office at a ceremony to commence a four-year tenure.
The occasion was also used to swear into office all the elected unit committee members of the assembly.
A judge at the Amasaman High Court, Justice Priscialla Dapaah Mireku, administered the oath of office, allegiance and secrecy to the new members.
The Municipal Chief Executive for the Ga West Municipal Assembly, Clement Wilkinson, urged the new members to be credible in their decision-making and provide good services to their electorate for the success of the assembly.
The Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr John Ampotuah Kumah, who inaugurated the new assembly members, urged them to work hard in spite of the logistic challenges facing some assemblies in the country.
At Ablekuma, a total of 21 assembly members, comprising 14 elected members and seven government appointees, were sworn in at a ceremony held at the Ablekuma North Municipal Assembly.
The appointees included one person with disability and three women.
They were sworn in together with 70 elected unit committee members.
A Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Alhaji Mohammed Hardi Tufeiru, who read the President’s inaugural speech, congratulated the assembly and unit committee members and urged them to work together to change the status quo and deepen local governance and decentralisation to enable citizens to have access to basic public services in their districts.
The Ablekuma North Assembly Municipal Chief Executive, Kofi Ofori, while welcoming the new members of the assembly called on them to support the assembly to implement its policies and programmes aimed at building a foundation that could best guarantee the stability, growth and development of the local economy to create jobs, generate more incomes and reduce poverty.
SOURCE: GRAPHIC ONLINE