President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has charged metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) to work to deepen transparency and promote popular participation, as well as accountability, at the local level.
He said they should also respect the sector ministers and the various regional ministers, as the ministers were his representatives playing a supervisory role over MMDCEs.
The President also warned that he would not hesitate in firing any MMDCE who exhibited ineffectiveness and inefficiency and got involved in needless conflicts that dented the image of the government.
The President gave the warning when he opened a four-day orientation programme for MMDCEs in Accra yesterday.
The programme was on the theme: “Effective leadership for local economic transformation and improved services delivery in Ghana – The role of MMDCEs”.
It is being attended by 250 confirmed MMDCEs, excluding 11 who are yet to be confirmed.
The orientation seeks to educate participants on the demands of the office of MMDCEs and equip them with knowledge, skills and the right attitudes necessary for effective leadership.
It is also to create opportunities for MMDCEs to interact with national-level actors and share information on government priority projects and programmes and orient new MMDCEs on the legal and institutional arrangements for effective local governance.
Hallmark of success
President Akufo-Addo said the charge was the hallmark for successful leadership and the attainment of results, adding: “If you are fruitful in this, then we will be making good progress towards strengthening the structure of our governance system and bringing democracy and progress to local government.”
He said it was a good time to be MMDCEs because they presided over the local economy and were to transform it to create jobs for the people.
The President added that the local area was the target for all the programmes set forth since 2017 and that whether they initiated them or not, they must be aware of them and work towards their attainment.
“You are to familiarise yourself with everything, whether you initiated it or not,” he stressed.
He said while a lot of funds would be channelled into the various assemblies from the central government, MMDCEs should work to maximise internally generated funds, explaining that they would not make the desired progress “if all development programmes are solely dependent on the relatively modest sums you get from the common fund allocation”.
He advised that they should use the common fund judiciously for planned and approved projects, explaining that the fund was not for recurrent expenditure and should not be used as such, misused or abused.
President Akufo-Addo said the development could not be attained if there was no peace and, therefore, admonished them to be careful and tactful in managing issues of intelligence and security.
He also urged them to declare their assets three months on assuming office, as demanded by the Public Office Holder’s Declaration of Assets and Disqualification Act, 1998 (Act 550), and assured them that it would be monitored.
“It is important that the Ghanaian people understand that, for us, public service is exactly public service, not for personal gain,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo reiterated his commitment and belief that MMDCES must be elected because that would lead to the deepening of decentralisation and accountability.
After a broad national consensus on that approach, he said, the main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), made a U-turn and said it was no longer prepared to go along with the national consensus.
He said should a consensus arise for the repeal of Article, 55 Clause 3 of the Constitution and an agreement reached for political parties to participate in and sponsor candidates for MMDCE positions at any point during his tenure of office, the matter would be brought back to the front burner of public discourse for the necessary actions.
The Minister of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development, Mr Dan Kwaku Botwe, said the ministry would continue to support the policy guidelines, manuals and logistics to enable MMDCEs to function better.
He said in September this year, the ministry issued new fee-fixing guidelines to aid MMDCEs in their revenue mobilisation effort.
Mr Botwe gave an assurance that the ministry, in collaboration with other institutions, would monitor and ensure regular reporting on the performance of MMDCEs.