Government and Politics

Petition To President Nana Akufo-Addo To Rescind Decision On MMDCEs Election And Halt The Impending Referendum To Save Ghana’s Young Democracy

7TH SEPTEMBER, 2019
Peter Antwi Boasiako.

PETITION TO PRESIDENT NANA AKUFO-ADDO TO RESCIND
DECISION ON MMDCEs ELECTIONS AND HALT THE
IMPENDING REFERENDUM TO SAVE GHANA’S YOUNG
DEMOCRACY.

His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo,
President of Ghana, Jubilee House, Accra.

Mr. President, we have carefully followed your government’s argument,
through its Local Government and Rural Development Minister, reiterating
on various forums that a referendum leading to the amendment of Article 55
(3) of the Ghana Constitution will be held alongside the district Assemblies
elections by the end of this year. The article, which is an entrenched
provision in the constitution states that, “Subject to the provisions of this
Article, a political party is free to participate in shaping the political will of the
people, to disseminate information on political ideas, social and economic
programmes of a national character, and sponsor candidates for election to
any public office other than to the District Assemblies or lower local
government units”.

At the recent forum held under the theme: “Electing MMDCEs for Improved
Local Decentralisation and Good Governance”, which was aimed at
sensitising the representatives of the various political parties about the
proposed amendment to the entrenched article, the Minister emphasised
again on the fact that the proposed amendment is critical if the MMDCEs are
to be elected on a partisan basis through the universal adult suffrage system.
The Minister went further to state that, “A draft bill for the amendment of the
article has already been approved by your Cabinet and sent to the Speaker
of Parliament who has also assented to it, and sent it to the Council of State
for advice. That, the Council of State has also given its advice and the
Attorney General has since gazetted the Bill”.This illustration actually depicts
the background as to how far the process to allow the elections of MMDCEs
has gone.

Mr. President, though it appears the process to fulfil the NPP 2016
manifesto pledge has reached almost irreversible state, but we see huge
problems with the idea for yours and the future governments, and we
believe that it is not too late to exercise your prerogative
as the President of the nation, to halt this amendment, looking at the
reasons pointed out below.

Some Ghanaians have factually argued that the election of the MMDCEs
isolates the President from the controversies and temporary pressure
which usually characterises the appointments of MMDCEs. Others have
also argued that, the purpose for which the constitution made that provision
has been defeated because it has become counterproductive as the ruling
parties have usually nominated people who lack the competence required
to run the assemblies. Therefore some have also called for the 30 percent
appointment of members who are supposed to be technocrats and
professionals to the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies
(MMDAs) by the government to be scrapped.

But Mr. President, the fact remains that the framers of the constitution
envisaged the need to build the country on consensus irrespective of our
fierce political divide, since politics does not provide all solutions to nation
building, therefore an opportunity was created to afford the elected
President to appoint technocrats and professionals such as teachers,
engineers and specialists who may not like to stand for rigorous elections
to bring their expertise to bear on the assemblies.

However, a distinct fact also is that we have witnessed situations whereby the ruling parties have
appointed their party members who lack the competence and knowledge
unto the assemblies, and by so doing, have politicized, abused, and
deviated from the core purpose for which the constitution made that
provision. Mr. President, the question we would respectfully like to ask is,
‘how does the proposed partisan election of the MMDCEs and Assembly
Members seek to fulfill that purpose and improve the current system’?
Another question we humbly like to ask is, ‘do we have to cut off our legs
if your child defecates on them, as Ghanaian adage goes’? We believe
that the soiled legs only need cleaning, and the child is appropriately
educated in its upbringing.

Identifying the deviation and abuse of this important provision in our constitution which allows for professionals and experts to be hired, we suggest that, what was needed to improve the system was to introduce comprehensive stringent minimum criteria for
any nominee to the Assemblies to meet the criteria in order to fulfil the purpose of the said
provision in the constitution. As we know, partisan politics has not been
the only solution for everything in most advanced democratic countries.
We contend that, introducing partisan politics at the Assembly Membership
elections would undoubtedly create sharp division at the grassroots in our
communities and will not help to maintain harmony among the local people
despite the fact that it affords the people the platform to choose who
governs them locally. We believe that, the political factionalism at the
grassroots will destroy friendships and families, considering our fragile
young democracy.

Mr. President, there is also no concrete evidence which clearly
suggests that the proposed election of the MMDCEs will actually
improve on the current system, rather, the demerits identified below
with this partisan idea are too weighty to ignore.

Mr. President, we respectfully urge that the Minister for Local Government
and Rural Development should take the responsibility to help Ghanaians
understand the following:

1) Once the provision is amended for the MMDCEs and Assemblymen
to be elected on partisan basis, the political parties will take full control of
the elections process, for that matter, the parties will have to allow for
internal primaries at all levels in all areas, to select their MMDCE
candidates as well as the candidates for local Assemblies candidates, just
as the process for the parliamentary primaries. According to the Local Govt
Act of 1993, Act 462, Section 7(1), states that; “A candidate seeking
election to a District Assembly or to a lower local government unit shall
personally appear before the electorate as an individual, and shall not use
a symbol associated with a political party.” Now this article will also have
to change, the political parties will take over the process at the grassroots
level.

2) Once the parties elect the MMDCE candidates to contest on the
party’s symbol against the other opposing parties, it then becomes a
serious political game to play just as it is for the parliamentary elections.
The political parties will have to mobilise logistical resources and money,
to campaign vigorously across the country
and rally behind their selected candidates to help them win the
majority.

3) The sitting President and Vice and the entire government machinery
will have no choice than to stop whatever they are doing, to help campaign
actively for their party MMDCE candidates across the nation, in order to win
the majority of the MMDCEs, to help the President govern peacefully and
smoothly. This process without doubt shall be extremely cumbersome and
stressful for any sitting President as compared to the temporary pressure
that characterises the appointments of MMDCEs. Why on earth should any
President put himself under such strenuous and energy-consuming
situation at the time the President and entire government machinery need
peace of mind to manage the country?

4) In our view, the election of MMDCEs will also mean that, the political
parties will have to apply the same rules used at electing the
parliamentary candidates for the MMDCES and Assemblymen as well.
Thus, once contested and lost the primaries, you cannot contest the
main election as an independent candidate against the party’s elected
candidate. We’re talking about the grassroots level where divisions and
disunity would forever remain and destroy the communities. The
incumbent party would have to double their efforts to win more MMDCEs
positions just as the parliamentary elections. Failure to do so would
mean that the opposition parties will win all MMDCEs slots and dictate
the pace for the incumbent government. A situation no serious
government will wish for, but this scenario can easily happen if the idea
of partisan election of MMDCEs occurs.

5) Also, once the MMDCEs are elected, they become autonomous, the
President will have no direct control and supervisory powers over them just
as the President has no control whatsoever over the opposition party MPs
in parliament, until the end of their tenure. Unless the new legislations will
be set to limit the roles of the elected MMDCEs to be put under the direct
supervisory control of the President. A situation we wonder how it will be
possible as they are elected via universal adult suffrage system.

6) We must also bear in mind that, the possibility that one political party
can win all the MMDCEs positions together with the
Assemblymen slots in multiple regions are very high in Ghana politics
whereby majority of the people vote based on their tribal, ethnic geographical
and religious affiliations. With all things been considered, assuming a
situation whereby the governing party loses the majority of the MMDCE
positions and possibly the Assembly members slots as well in number of
regions, how will the Regional Ministers appointed by the President to those
regions where the governing party has lost all or has fewer MMDCEs, be
able to work harmoniously with the opposing party MMDCEs elected? One
can only imagine a potentially hostile and recalcitrant atmosphere for the
Regional Minister This scenario is also highly possible in Ghana’s current
political dispensation. We would also like to ask, ‘why has the main opposition NDC party
gone absolutely silent on this critical constitutional referendum which
paves way for the MMDCEs to be elected on partisan basis?

7) Ghanaians must also be made to understand that, the usual political
heat which gives birth to unpleasant political violence will rear its ugly
head in the campaigns to elect the MMDCEs. Can the political parties
afford to raise substantial money again to run the MMDCEs elections
just after two years of Presidential and parliamentary general
elections?

8) Most importantly, what the incumbent government must bear in mind is
that, if the MMDCEs are to be elected in the midterm of its tenure, it will
serve as a catalyst for Ghanaians to pass a ‘vote of no-confidence’ on the
government’s performance, and obviously, if the masses are disappointed
and angry with the government, it will reflect in their votes against the
incumbent party’s MMDCEs. Certainly, such circumstance would have the
potential to further weaken the strength of the government. Why put your
government in such an uncomfortable situation, whiles you would have
had the powers to decide?

Mr. President, we can cite examples of the UK Prime Minister Cameron’s
decision to allow the public to decide on the Brexit through public
referendum The outcome of that referendum which the UK public was
allowed to decide for the government to remove the country from the
European Union has ended up as an albatross on the neck of UK
government in the past three years, all just by a single decision when the
Prime Minster underestimated the power of the public votes. We can also cite the example of the decision taken
by Prime Minister Theresa May, when she hurriedly called for general
elections with the aim of getting the public endorsement through votes for
her premiership, at the time that she already had majority of MPs. By that
decision, the Prime Minister ended up with a minority of MPs after the
general elections, making her government weaker than ever before.

Mr. President, we are of the view that, the current system which allows you
to appoint the MMDCEs can achieve the purpose for quicker development
of our communities if the country can rather infuse in the Local
Government Acts some puritanical criteria for the nominees to the MMDAs
to meet before appointment through qualification assessment, in order to
achieve the purpose of obtaining professionals, technocrats and
competent people to MMDAs, even if the incumbent parties choose to
appoint only their party members.

Mr. President, We therefore humbly submit that, the elected President of
Ghana must be allowed to have the powers to appoint the Commissioners,
Ambassadors, CEOs, MMDCEs, High Commissioners, Regional
Ministers…. etc. We believe that the political activities are the country are
way too much and making the MMDCEs and District Assemblies to be
elected on partisan basis will make it worse.

We also advice that, the position of the appointed professional Assembly
Members must no longer be on a part-time basis, in order to attract
technocrats and skillful professionals, to help address the challenges with
the mobilisation of revenue at the local level as well as sorting the
involvement of traditional Chiefs, whiles seeking to introduce right
technology to improve on service delivery at the local assemblies. We
believe that, this will ensure the proper functioning of the MMDAs.
We submit that, reducing the Presiding Membership positions at the
MMDAs to a partisan election will not achieve the purpose since the
people who occupy those positions ought to be competent and
experienced to deliver on development of the areas.

Mr. President, we have come to you with this petition based on
concerns expressed by some indigenous members of the NPP, some
government officials who are very skeptical about the partisan idea
but can’t talk, comments heard from ordinary Ghanaians and our
personal anxieties about the idea. We therefore pray that, you
reconsider the exigent issues raised herein, the suggestions
professed, and hope that you rescind the decision on the partisan
election of the MMDCEs and District Assemblymen.
Thank you.

– – – Signed – – –
Peter Antwi Boasiako.
United Kingdom.
Tel: +447950388567
Email: ptrantwi@hotmail.com
Address: 4 Rams Grove, Romford, Essex, RM6 5LB, UK.
Bill Boampong Darlington,
Ghana.

Tel: +233209279533
Email: billyaw2014@gmail.com
Address: Hse No. F59, Badu, Tain District, Bono region, Ghana.

Felix Hilton Kwamena Hamilton

United Kingdom.
Tel: +447943008516
Email: paatom@yahoo.co.uk
Address: 17 Wiltshire Close, Chelsea London, SW3 2NS, UK.
Date: 07 Sept., 2019.

Cc:
Right Hon. Speaker of Parliament, Parliament House.
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Ministries.
Chairman, Council of State, Accra.
Ing. Dr. Nana Ato Arthur, Head of Services, Office of the Head of
the Local Government Service.

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