A former President of National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG), George Kyei Baffour has expressed his disappointment with the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and the Constitution Review Implementation Committee (CRIC) for disregarding the recommendations and contributions made by Ghanaians for the amendment of the 1992 Constitution.
He revealed that after critically assessing the inputs and recommendations made by Ghanaians, the CRC, the government white paper and the CRIC during the constitutional review process, it was obvious that majority of Ghanaians want direct election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MDCEs).
This follows comments made by a member of the Implementation Committee, Dr. Gheysika Adombire Agambila stating that if MMDCEs are elected, the country will be permanently divided along partisan lines and will also divert focus from development.
Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show, Mr. Kyei Baffour maintained that “for majority of Ghanaians to advocate for direct elections and for government to traverse the views of majority of Ghanaians to implement this kind of recommendation, I believe it’s a non-starter.”
He pointed out that the constitution clearly spells out the qualification for election into governance positions which includes registered Ghanaians, nationality, sound mind, criminal records etcetera.
If governments refuse to allow the election of MMDCEs, he said “will restrict certain calibre of Ghanaians from contesting positions…which will be against the spirit of the constitution.”
In response, Dr. Agambila reiterated that the CRIC unanimously believe politics at the local level should be non-partisan but the “emphasis and focus should be development; bringing everybody on board.”
According to him, that is the philosophy the CRIC has been working with to prevent the importation of the “polarization that has characterized our national politics to the local level.”
A lawyer, Clement Akapame who once worked with the Constitution Review Commission however defended three tier approach to local elections recommendations made by the CRC.
The CRC recommended popular elections for mayors for metropolitan areas, and for the municipal chief executives, the president must nominate five people who will then be vetted by the Public Services Commission (PSC) after which three people will be shortlisted to contest an election for the position of the MCE.
For District Chief Executives (DCE) the CRC recommended a simple majority by assembly members to confirm the person appointed by the president.
He clarified that the three tier approach is expected to be a pilot exercise which was just for “convenience and to start the process” because the “amendment process of the CRC envisaged was not to have a district permanently fall in that three-tier category…”
Mr. Akapame added that “the process was to move smoothly starting with the Metropolitan areas then you face it and as we’ve mastered the Metropolitan areas through the Municipal, then we will have the Districts also start electing. So it is not cast in stone.”
The CRC was constituted by the late President John Evans Atta Mills in 2010 to carry out a consultative review of the 1992 Constitution.
The report by the Commission consequently suggested actions the government can take to translate its recommendations into constitutional, legislative and administrative actions to improve national governance and the lives of the citizens of Ghana.