NALAG backs YES vote in December 17 referendum
The National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG) is rallying for a ‘YES’ vote in the December 17 national referendum.
It is however shocked at the reversed position of the Minority and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) on the exercise after the many broad consultative meetings.
President of the Association, Bismark Baisie Nkum on Eyewitness News, was of the view that not voting in favour of the question will deprive the country the needed economic development.
“NALAG as a body, we are in support of a ‘YES’ vote. We have gotten to a point that, this is becoming a reality and no longer a vision. The two main political parties have both been for a YES vote until two weeks ago when the NDC decided to settle on NO. Parliamentary records also show that, the Minority in Parliament has also supported a YES vote. So it has been a collective position of the nation and not a single contradiction. So we have taken the collective interest of the people of Ghana and the fact that power must be truly devolved. As we speak, the power is concentrated with the President. Patronage of our district assembly has not been that good. I think we need to go to the referendum and vote YES and if there are consequential issues, then we deal with it. Otherwise, we are rejecting the vote that will make Ghana a better place.”
Speaking on the same show, Assembly Member of Sakumono Electoral Area, Dr. Richard Fiadomor was fiercely opposing the sponsorship of local unit members by political parties.
While canvassing for a NO vote, he argued that past governments had not shown the will-power to tackle the problems the referendum is claimed to solve.
“We are supporting a NO vote because when you look at the current local governance system, there are a lot of dynamics. It cannot be seen as a unitary one like we see at the highest level. So for me, it’s ironical for the NALAG president to say that the President promised to allow for the election of MMDCEs because it is the work of Parliament. If we are really committed to that, Article 243 should have been amended long ago. Also, electing local government representative on partisan line is so wrong. That is why I believe that successive governments have been joking with local government elections. The referendum is to giving validity to the illegalities we have been engaging all this while. Anybody from the political divide tells me that, political parties are not behind District Assembly elections and that is a complete lie. We are lying our way into hell. Even this government has not shown what it takes to deal with the winner takes all politics.”
The referendum is to decide on a possible amendment of Article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution to permit political parties sponsor candidates for the local level elections.
Article 55(3) states that “subject to the provisions of this article, a political party is free to participate in shaping the political will of the people, to disseminate information on political ideas, social and economic programmes of a national character and sponsor candidates for elections to any public office other than to District Assemblies or lower local government units’’.
Although a Bill is in Parliament to amend the constitution, Article 55 (3) is considered as an entrenched clause hence can only be revised after a referendum.
The outcome of the referendum will have either of the following outcomes: If the electorate votes YES, the election of MMDCEs, Assembly and Unit Committee Members in the near future will be on a partisan basis.
If they vote NO, then the election of these candidates for the local level elections will be on a non-partisan basis as being practised now.
Calls to postpone the referendum
There is divided opinion on the referendum with the two major political parties sharing divergent views with the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) arguing that government has not held even a single engagement with them on the upcoming exercise.
With a few weeks to the December 17th referendum, there have been divided opinions on the issue with many stakeholders calling for a postponement.
Traditional leaders are also divided after the Chairman of the Governance Committee of the National House of Chiefs, Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi II disclosed that the posture of the House for a NO vote did not represent the concerted views of the chiefs.