VET, REJECT PREZ NANA ADDO’S THUGGERY MMDCE NOMINEES – THE QUAGMIRE OF ASSEMBLY MEMBERS.
Fmr DCE, Akatsi North & NDC V/R Secretary writes:
Subjecting President Nana Addo’s next batch of MMDCE nominees to a rigorous vetting and rejecting the thuggery ones subsequently, is one of the surest ways by which Assembly Members can exercise their authority, trigger development and get the right persons to fix the country’s broken assemblies.
If for nothing at all, Assembly Members have learned three major lessons in recent times. Two from the parliament of Ghana, and the other from the executive arm of government.
The military invasion of the parliamentary chamber during the election of Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin is the number one lesson to Assembly Members though it’s common under President Nana Addo’s regime to use state security apparatus and party vigilantes during Assembly Sessions (Meetings) to consider nominees for the position of MMDCEs. In some instances, Assembly Members had to flee for their lives. The situation may get worse if nothing pragmatic is done about it urgently because the signals are right on the wall and we need no prophet or soothsayer to tell us.
Anyway, the performance of President Nana Addo’s first term MMDCEs who were approved in Rambo Styles using NPP hoodlums is there for the people to judge.
The second lesson from the national parliament has to do with the vetting and subsequent approval of ministerial nominees amidst some controversies.
The last but not least, was the so-called “covid-19 free water and electricity” which taxes are being imposed on Ghanaians today, culminating in an unprecedented hardship in the country.
These lessons have fundamentally imposed greater responsibilities on Local Government Actors and Assembly Members, in particular, to be mindful of President Nana Addo’s MMDCE nominees who might look “free” today only for the people to pay dearly for their actions and inactions later.
Perhaps if Ghanaians had examined carefully the “covid-19 free water and electricity” our approach would have been different particularly in the 2020 general elections.
The display of affluence and arrogance by some MMDCEs especially in the run-up to the 2020 general elections was a major concern to many Ghanaians.
As heads of security in the Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs), some of them supervised the election day security infractions that led to the arrest, detention and alleged killing of some innocent Ghanaians who were protecting the fragile democracy.
Incumbency advantage was overly exploited by these appointees especially in areas where the MMDCEs doubled as NPP parliamentary candidates.
In the Volta region, for instance, Kpando, Afadzato South, Ho, and Agortime Ziope MDCEs were fired before the 2020 general elections and quickly replaced with NPP parliamentary candidates for those constituencies.
Article 243 (3) of the 1992 constitution, and Section 20 (1) of the Local Governance Act of 2016, Act 936, there shall be a District Chief Executive for each district appointed by the president with the prior approval of not less than two-thirds majority of the members of the district assembly present and voting at the meeting.
The position of the law remained unchanged after the 2019 abortive referendum that sort to make the district assemblies partisan, and the position of MMDCEs elective by universal suffrage.
Interestingly, the President has been loudly silent on the election of MMDCEs in his recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) to parliament. Surely, Ghana doesn’t necessarily need a referendum to elect MMDCEs if the election would not be on a partisan basis. Could it be that they only used the referendum as a cover-up for something they never meant to do? Your guess is as mine!
Nonetheless, having practiced the current decentralization and local governance system since 1988, it has become necessary to inject some innovations and reforms that would carry the citizenry along the path of socio-economic development at the local level.
Article 78 (1) of the 1992 constitution stipulates that the President’s nominees for ministerial appointments shall be approved by parliament before they can act or hold themselves out as ministers or deputy ministers of state.
Even though, the constitution is not clear about the form the approval should take, the standing orders of parliament have created the appointments committee and made the first deputy speaker chairman of the appointment committee.
The standing orders of parliament came to fill what would have been a gap in the constitution. This is because how can parliament approve an unexamined person to an examined position with responsibilities?
Vetting has been adopted in many democracies across the globe as the best tool for assessing the capacities and competence of government appointees before approval or otherwise.
How come, Assembly Members could approve or disapprove of Chief Executive nominees without vetting? Which other democratic tool are they using to convinced themselves before approving or rejecting MMDCE nominees?
Debatably, some commentators have argued that vetting of appointees has lost its significance and values, to the extent that, vetting has become a mere formality.
In any case, the laws establishing the district assemblies have not made provision for Deputy Presiding Members perhaps one of the reasons why they are called Presiding Members and NOT Speakers at the local level. It’s important to note that, while Presiding Members are Members of the Assembly, the Speaker of Parliament is not a Member of Parliament but his two deputies are MPs.
Additionally, as being practiced in the national parliament, the local parliament, thus, the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies CAN also constitute vetting committees based on Section 23, Sub-Section 1,(f) of the Local Governance Act of 2016, Act 936, to vet the President’s nominees for the position of MMDCEs.
The assemblies need to create the platform for MMDCE nominees to amongst other things demonstrate political, administrative, and managerial competence necessary to fix the current and future challenges of the assemblies.
It’s not enough to read the Curriculum Vitae (CV) of MMDCE nominees as the practice has been in some assemblies.
Also, officials of the political party in power vetting potential MMDCEs have no legal basis unless assigned by the President to help him settled on suitable candidates.
If the one authorized by the constitution to appoint is vetting “candidates for the position of MMDCEs” then it’s just appropriate for those authorized by the same constitution to approve (assembly members) also to vet whoever is appointed by the President before approval or otherwise.
Appointment and approval are equal and very important under the constitution.
The President’s vetting is not representative enough, and not open to the assembly members and the public whose interest the MMDCEs are supposed to serve if approved.
The exercise, if conducted properly would offer the opportunity to second-term “recycled” MMDCE nominees to account for their stewardship while the first-termers also take the opportunity to demonstrate their competence and capacity to handle their respective assemblies.
The concept of decentralization and local governance is not far from that of corporate governance principles, especially when district assemblies are regarded as corporate bodies and branches of the central government with the MMDCEs as branch managers.
The position of MMDCEs has gone beyond just a political figurehead to more complex stewardship that demands greater managerial skills with vision.
Many NPP activists have intensified their lobbying vaults but the President is still buying time under an illegal presidential directive asking MMDCEs to stay in office till only God knows when they would be re-appointed or appointed by Article 243 (3) of the 1992 constitution.
It’s also worth noting that, across the country, Assembly Members have not approved the continuous stay in office of any MMDCE in president Nana Addo’s last tenure of office.
Assembly Members must be reminded that, even though they have the power under Section 20, sub-section 3(a) of Art 936 to pass a vote of no confidence in “underperforming MMDCEs”, but undoubtedly this road has never been an easy one for members and cannot be relied on. So, why wait when you have the opportunity now? “Forewarned is forearmed”
Admittedly, a nominee could perform excellently at a vetting yet performed badly on the job and vice versa. The same may happen in the case of appointed and elected MMDCEs.
Vetting of MMDCEs nominees by Assembly Members would not only served as a benchmark or a reference point, but also enhance accountability, transparency, and citizens’ confidence and participation in local governance.
For example, the good people of Keta may be interested to know how their next MCE would handle the reclaimed land issues in the municipality though it’s been alleged that, some members of the assembly are culprits in the illegal sale of the reclaimed land.
Other assemblies have their particular challenges that could be brought to the fore during the vetting of MMDCEs nominees.
Additionally, reason(s) can then be ascribed as to why the MMDCE nominee was not approved by Assembly Members present and voting at a meeting.
To save the image of our assemblies and the local governance system from looming danger, destruction, and total collapse, members of the assemblies must get the right persons as MMDCEs. Hence, the huge responsibility bestowed on all local government practitioners, civil society groups, and Assembly Members to advocate for the right principles, framework, and structures in Ghana’s decentralization and local governance system. “For now, Ghana needs Metropolitan, Municipal and District Fix Executives and not just Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives”
Fmr DCE, Akatsi North & NDC V/R Secretary
Monday, May 24, 2021