President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has pledged to revisit the referendum to amend Article 55 (3) of the Constitution to pave the way for direct election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies Chief Executives (MMDCEs) by Ghanaian voters.
Speaking at the opening of a three-day orientation for confirmed MMDCEs in Accra yesterday, he said, the government in line with its commitment to the matter, would continue to work for a broad national consensus on this issue.
“Should such a consensus be attained for the repeal of Article 55(3), and an agreement reached for political parties to participate in and sponsor candidates for election in the MMDCEs at any point during my tenure of office as President of the Republic, the matter would be brought back to the front burner of public discourse for the necessary action to be taken,” he said.
The orientation which was for the 250 MMDCEs who had been confirmed out of the 261 nominated, was on the theme “Effective leadership for local economic transformation and improved service delivery in Ghana”.
The referendum was expected to take place in 2019 but was suspended due to lack of consensus between the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress NDC.
While the NPP wanted political party sponsored candidates to contest in the election of MMDCEs, the NDC wanted the election to be held without partisan politics.
President Akufo-Addo said his administration was still committed to the referendum on partisan election of the MMDCEs because it would lead to deepening of accountability.
Noting that MMDCEs were pillars of local development, he charged the appointees to work diligently to support efforts by sector ministers to deliver the policies of the government.
He promised that common fund allocations would be regular and on time but they should work to increase internally generated funds and use them judiciously to execute local projects.
“I will not hesitate to disappoint any MMDCE who fails to live up to expectation”, he said.
President Akufo-Addo advised them to respect Regional ministers; ensure peace and security in their areas and declare their assets by the next three months as required by law.
The chairman of the Council of State and Paramount Chief of Juaben Traditional Area, Nana OtuoSiriboe II, advised the MMDCEs to avoid confrontation with the traditional leaders, Members of Parliament and Ministers but collaborate with them to work.
While urging them to be selfless in service, he encouraged them to form a closer bond with the citizenry in order to appreciate their concerns and address them.
The Minister of Local government, Decentralisation and Rural Development, Daniel Botwe, said the orientation was to enlighten the appointees on government policies and programmes and local management tools to enable them work effectively.
He said the ministry would continue to drive the government’s decentralisation agenda through policy direction.
The Volta Regional Minister and Dean of Regional Ministers, Dr Archibald Yao Letsa, said they were expecting renewed commitment, citizen-centered and result-oriented leadership from the MMDCEs to achieve the president’s local level agenda.
The Obuasi East DCE, FaustinaAmissah, said the MMDCEs would work hard to enhance local development to justify their appointment.
BY YAW KYEI, JONATHAN DONKOR & JESSEL THERSON-COFIE