The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development Wednesday engaged Civil Society Organizations (CSO) to deliberate on how to entrench the decentralisation processes in the country to make it a people-centred one.
The meeting which was chaired by the Local Government Minister, Mr Akwesi Oppong-Fosu, formed part of series of interactions aimed to share and exchange ideas that would ensure that decentralisation worked to the benefit of the citizenry, especially those at the grassroots.
The Ministry intends to carry out such meetings periodically throughout the country to solicit the views of stakeholders to help to move governance at the district level forward.
Already, similar meetings had been held in the Upper East, Central, and Western regions where local staff of the Ministry interacted with chiefs, opinion leaders, community members, media, and CSOs working at the district levels to inquire about their views on the decentralisation process.
Interacting with CSOs in Accra, Mr Oppong-Fosu said Ghana’s decentralisation was based on participation, hence, the Ministry’s steps to initiate the forum to discuss with important stakeholders like the CSOs who played critical roles in governance.
He explained that decentralization was the shift in power from the central government to the district level where actors interact with people at the local level to achieve common development goals.
The Minister observed that it was the small towns and villages at the district levels that made up Ghana and therefore the need to recognise and address their peculiar needs as communities for sustainable progress and development.
He tasked the CSOs who were closer to the communities to work and assist government to bring development to the people, adding that, CSOs could work as watchdogs of districts to ensure that everybody played his or her parts to the benefit of all.
Mr Eric Oduro Ossae, Dean of Studies and Research at the Institute of Local Government Studies, advised journalists and CSOs to acquaint themselves with various legislative instruments that dealt with local governance in supporting the work of district assemblies.
He called for the engagement of stakeholders and CSOs in district assemblies’ public education programmes.
Dr Callistus Mahama, Head of Service, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, said the next meeting would be held next week in the Northern Region to solicit the views of the people there, while other regions would be visited in the course of the year.
He said such interactions had helped the Ministry to know the issues affecting the public and the best way to bring development at the door steps of communities.
Participants called on the Ministry to liaise with the Electoral Commission to plan and execute the upcoming district level elections on time.
They also urged the Ministry to work to ensure that the district level elections were devoid of partisan politics.
The Ministry was also asked to give 30 per cent quota to women who wished to participate in the elections.