By Bernice Bessey & Calum Drysdale
The Head of Local Government Service (LGS), Dr Stephen Nana Ato Arthur, has ignited a public debate on whether the government should continue to have 30 percent appointees on the various assemblies, if Ghana decides to elect Metropolitan, Municipal, District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and assembly members.
Dr Arthur, who has already taken sides on the matter, said: “I am also of the view [that] if we elect MMDCEs, if we elect assembly members on partisan basis, there would not be the need for the 30 percent of government appointees. If they are elected, we should not actually be thinking of appointing 30 percent appointees. That is my view.”
According to him, at the moment what Ghana needs is for her citizens to go to the polls, come December this year, and vote ‘Yes’ in the referendum to okay the move to electing our local authorities on partisan basis.
“I am indulging all Ghanaians that we should vote yes, come December this year, when we go for the referendum to elect MMDCEs on partisan basis. I believe that through that we will be able to elect people who will be able to deliver the services that we want. I believe that through that people will have security of tenure to be able to work effectively and efficiently.
“I believe that when MMDCES are elected, they would be downwardly accountable to the people who elected them, rather than upward accountability to the appointing authorities.”
At a media sensitisation workshop on Wednesday at Aburi in the Eastern Region, he explained that the government was developing what the country would be using for the elections of MMDCEs and assembly members.
The Head of Service admitted that although he was not the government’s spokesperson, but strongly believes that what he was propagating conforms to international best practices, if a decision is made for the election of MMDCES and assembly members on partisan lines.
“Earlier on it (election of assembly members) was non-partisan, and that was more reason why the 70 percent are elected and we need to appoint the 30 percent. That is what the Constitution says in Act 462 that was repealed to Act 936,” he said.
He said there was no need for people to be afraid of the new system, since the country was already divided on partisan lines, adding, “Go to every assembly, if you don’t believe that the assemblies are partisan, look at when the President has appointed somebody to be confirmed. Look at when we are going to go for presiding members, you will see NDC and NPP in the various assemblies.
“It is already partisan, so why are we playing ostriches? The solution is to go partisan; the thing is already partisan and that is the solution, and I am all for it.”
According to him, there was nothing dangerous about the election of MMDCEs and assembly members, as some people sought to claim, because there is nothing wrong if the country is divided on partisan lines.
Dr Arthur vehemently argued that no citizen should suffer under any government because of his or her political affiliation, because the resources of the country are meant to be enjoyed by every citizen.
“President Akufo-Addo, today, is in office, notwithstanding the fact that there is no MP on the ticket of NPP in Volta Region. Is the government not working in Volta Region?
“When NDC was in power, notwithstanding that fact that they have only three MPs in the Ashanti Region, didn’t NDC work in Kumasi, so why the fear? Already the system is such that whether you voted for NPP or NDC, you are a Ghanaian. So why is it that you are a Ghanaian and you cannot enjoy Ghana’s resource?” he queried.
He postulated that whatever resource in Ghana is for Ghanaians, therefore, people should not be afraid if any of the dominating political parties is in power.
The occasion was also used to explain the challenge the public had in differentiating between the roles of the Civil Service and Local Government Service.
He said the Local Government Service recruits and manages the workforce of the various agencies and departments of the ministries, with exception of the Ghana Health Service and Ghana Education Service.