By Maxwell Obiri-Yeboah .
The National Association of Presiding Members (NAPM) has given the government up to the end of this month to fulfil promises made to them, else they would embark upon a nationwide demonstration.
The Presiding Members, numbering 254 from the Metropolitan/Municipal/Distinct Assemblies in all the 10 regions of Ghana, converged in Accra at the Institute of Local Government Studies on November 1, 2018, as part of their annual conference, to make their plight known to the government.
According to them at the programme held under the theme “Focusing on the sub structures; a means to effective implementation of decentralization,” the government has consistently failed to deliver motorbikes it promised to give them last year to enable the members cover remote areas within their assemblies.
Similarly, the government has not given them a listening ear, though they play an important role in the local government administration system.
Joseph Kwasi Baah, who doubles as Public Relations Officer (PRO) of NAPM and Presiding Member (PM) for the West Akim Municipal Assembly, in an interview, expressed his concerns to the media, saying, “It was clear that the government has neglected us, even though we are rendering sacrificial jobs for Mother Ghana. The Central Government has ceased to change the local government laws to ease our toil.”
According to him, they had petitioned the government since 2015 to see to it that Parliament amends the law on the payment of their (PMs) ex-gratia so that it is paid from the Consolidated Fund instead.
“If you want to organise a clean-up exercise in the assembly, you have to feed the people well before they will come for the exercise, and that is equivalent to GH¢200. Meanwhile, quarterly, every Presiding Member is given GH¢80 and it is difficult to come by money to do this,” he said.
“We are appealing to the government to come to our aid, and we believe if we are able to get it by the end of this month (November), it will be helpful to us in delivering our services and ease our sufferings,” he continued.
Mr Kwasi Baah hinted that after November 2018, they will advise themselves.
He, therefore, called on Ghanaians to assist them in making their work easy by playing their part for the development of the nation at the local level.
Adoliba David, who also doubles as the Presiding Member for Bawku Municipal Assembly and is the Dean of Presiding Members in the Upper East Region, further stated that the assemblies were facing challenges that need the government’s immediate intervention.
Mr Adoliba, expressing worry over challenges hindering the development of the assemblies, pleaded with the government to give them a listening ear, as well as give them the necessary equipment to perform their mandate.
“We need motorcycles as assembly members, so that we can be able to go into our electoral areas, meet our people, and resolve pertinent issues which exist in our assemblies, because we are at the grassroots level,” he said.
According to him, they had been making this appeal to the Local Government Ministry since 2015, and have been following up, but nothing has been done about it.
According to Mr Adoliba, there are about 5,000 members working at the local level nationwide, but they have no means of transport to access un-motorable communities within the municipal and district areas.