Story: Atta Kwaku BOADI
The 1st Vice National Chairman of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Felix William Ograh has intimated that the election of the Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) is non-negotiable.
According to him, “that is the only way Ghanaians can feel development at the district levels”.
Mr Ograh made this observation on Amansan Television’s (ATV) morning show, Anopa Bosuo yesterday in Accra whiles marking the maiden edition of #FixTheConstitution Day which has been instituted by the PPP on December 7 every year to drum home the need to amend certain portions of the 1992 Constitution.
The PPP 1st National Vice Chairman noted that after three solid decades of operating the constitution , a number of the aspirations in its preamble had eluded the good people of Ghana.
He said, “our consistent advocacy for changes to be made to the 1992 constitution is fuelled by our undying passion to see the people of Ghana prosper in peace. With this current dictatorial, winner takes all, constitution which allows for create, loot and share by all parties that have been in power since 1992, the future does not look exciting. It will only become better if we make some fundamental changes to our constitution which will affect our politics and also affect the way we develop”.
Among other amendments the PPP was advocating for, he mentioned, included ; return of power to the people for all Ghanaians to directly elect their MMDCEs without any interference from the President and cancel government appointees into the District Assemblies; prohibiting Members of Parliament (MPs) from being appointed as Ministers of State or MPs resigning from parliament after their ministerial appointment; strengthening the office of Attorney-General by separating it from the Ministry of Justice; introducing a Public Declaration of Assets Regime; and clarifying the eligibility of Ghanaians in the Diaspora to hold public office.
It would be superfluous, he said, to recount the benefits of electing directly and by Universal Adult Suffrage all “our metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives as well as all the members of the district assemblies”.
He also emphasized that the concept of government appointees should be completely abolished.
This, he indicated, had been flogged over the years with elected governments demonstrating a lack of political will to empower the districts to elect their Chief Executive Officers who were the true agents of developments.
The MPs whose job is to pass legislation, he said, had arrogated to themselves the role of development agents with no constitutionally allocated resources.
Mr PPP man claimed the MPs had resorted to all kinds of unorthodox ways and policy violations to attempt to bring some piecemeal development to the people.
For example, he said, the office of the Chief Executive had become a trophy to be won and hijacked by elected political parties to reward party members who could neither become MPs nor Ministers of State.
“ It is therefore not surprising, as their tradition, to see the current General Secretary of the ruling party travelling around the country to conduct the so-called vetting of applicants mostly, party foot soldiers, who have applied to become MMDCEs”, he stated .
“When did a political party become a substitute for the established Public Services Commission for the vetting and appointments of candidates to occupy public office”, he quizzed?
According to Mr Ograh, the election of DCEs was long overdue because” it remains a democratic deficit and a major impediment in the development of the various smaller units that constitute Ghana”
He added: “ It will ensure that all the resources allocated by the constitution through the District Assembly Common Fund are demanded by the elected officers and same sent to the districts promptly for local development. It will ensure local accountability, elimination of corruption and rapid development”.
He contended that if citizens were capable of electing the president and MPs, they should be credited with the wisdom to decide who governs them at the local government level.
“The political chicanery orchestrated by the ruling party to deny the good people of Ghana their power; following the aborted referendum on whether or not MMDCEs should be elected on partisan basis must be viewed as a coup d’état against the people of Ghana by the political class.
“The question of a partisan election of MMDCEs or otherwise can only be answered by Ghanaians at a referendum so no one can sit in Accra and deny Ghanaians that opportunity under the pretext of a certain lack of consensus”, he said.
“How else can you know the position of Ghanaians on this matter other than through a referendum”, he further quizzed?
To this end , he called on parliament to amend articles 242(d) which deals with the appointment of the one third of Assembly Members and Articles 243(1) and 243(3) which deals with the appointment (and disappointment) of the Chief Executive.
“Making the referendum on Article 55(3), which prohibits political parties from local government elections, a pre-condition for electing MMDCEs is mischievous and a calculated attempt to postpone once again a very important constitutional amendment. We call on the government to choose patriotism over partisanship in this respect and allow the people of Ghana to elect their own District Chief Executives. If we want Ghanaians to allow political parties to participate in the local government elections, then let the referendum happen now”, he stressed!