Citizen participation crucial for democracy, devt — Participants

Participants at a day’s workshop on the National Popular Participation Framework have observed that the nation could accelerate its current pace of development with effective citizen participation from the onset of policy making.
They explained that when their involvement and collaboration are harnessed by policy makers from the beginning to the end of any legislation, policy and programme they are better able to relate and make the necessary inputs as well as own the initiative to ensure its successful implementation.
The participants noted that the legitimacy of every programme depended on the level of participation by the citizenry and it is time the practitioners of the country’s democracy recognised citizen participation as a tool for effective engagement and development.
The workshop, organised by the Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee on Decentralisation, sought to strengthen the level of involvement by the citizenry in the practice of the country’s democracy under the “National Popular Participation Framework.
Mr Edem Senanu, Lead Consultant to the project, said democracy did well on popular participation, transparency, accountability, coordinated and systematic approach to initiatives and programmes.
“Democracy is not about just voting and going to sleep, it is about ensuring that you follow up on the people you voted for to make sure they were doing the right things,” he stressed.
Mr Senanu noted that the IMCC has spent over two years in consultation while developing the framework aimed at enhancing the level of citizen participation.
He said local assemblies could do more within their locality through good social initiative and engagement with citizenry to voluntarily contribute towards development.
Giving a classical example of Lagos State in Nigeria, Mr Senanu explained how that state increased its internally generated funds due to constant engagement with the local people on policies and programmes that hinged on their development.
He indicated that people were more willing to pay any levy or taxes when they saw positive results and were able to relate with what their finances and contributions were used for by state actors.
“According to the framework, effective public participation allowed societal values to be identified and incorporated into decisions that ultimately affected them.
‘It would also harmonise the nation’s aspirations relating to various legislations, policies and guidelines into single practical reference point to improve engagement, accountability and service delivery to all Ghanaians.”
Mr Yusif Gyamson, a former Presiding Member of Sekondi Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly (STMA), called for a merger of some electoral areas and effective resources allocation to assembly members.
He said deepening decentralisation called for effective grassroots participation and the assemblies are key to achieving this concept of democracy. – GNA

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