President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Wednesday reiterated government’s commitment for the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCE’s).
He gave the assurance that the process for the amendment of the 1992 Constitution to facilitate the exercise would soon be underway.
He said the election of MMDCE’s would lead to the deepening of the country’s democracy and ensure better accountability.
“It is time to make it work,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo was addressing 199 new MMDCE’s at an orientation session organised by the Ministry of Local and Rural Development at the Institute of Local Government Service, at Ogbojo, near Accra.
The President told the MMDCE’s that “I belong to the group that has always advocated the direct, popular election of Chief Executives. It is now a Manifesto commitment of the ruling party, the NPP (New Patriotic Party), so you must be aware that it is going to be fulfilled… which will make you the last batch of Chief Executives to be appointed under the current system”.
He stated that they had nothing to fear in the direct election of Chief Executives under the new systems provided they gained the confidence of the electorate with their conduct and performance in office.
President Akufo-Addo said it was instructive that for the effective and efficient and transparent achievement of government’s vision to transform the socio-economic fortunes of the country, it was important that Chief Executives eschewed conflicts and acrimonious situation with Members of Parliament (MP).
Such engagements, he said frustrated the work of government, explaining that in as much as he would not want to issue any edict on anyone’s political ambition, they should remind themselves that resentments arising from such situations most often led to the misfortunes of political parties.
He said the new paradigm of effective governance demanded maximum co-operation between Chief Executive, MPs and the officials of the Development Authorities.
“The closer and more sincere will be the co-operation, the greater and more extensive will be the development.”
President Akufo-Addo told the MMDCE’s that though the sector minister had the responsibility to oversee the local governance and decentralisation implementation process, they should also accord their regional minister respect because they were also required to monitor and evaluate their work.
“I expect you to accord Regional Ministers all their due respect, as they are the President’s representatives in the Regions,” he added.
The President urged the Chief Executives to leverage on the reformative policies being undertaken by government to transform their local economies and preside over the creation of jobs for the people.
According to the President, the district was the target for all the programmes for aggressive industrialisation and value addition to agricultural produce, modernising agriculture, improving production and efficiency and achieving food security that government was introducing to grow the economy.
“The Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP) will be implemented at the constituency level, where the allocation of the equivalent of one million dollars annually will be used to finance capital expenditure for infrastructure and other facilities in the localities” he said.
He said: “The One Village One Dam policy initiative, like all the other innovative introductions to the economy, are all very much local initiatives. I am hoping that a genuine sense of fair competition will come into the operation of the districts.
“You have the opportunity to change your districts from places where people move from, to places where people move to. Let your factories thrive and you will soon discover that people will move to your districts, instead of the current position where all your young and strong people move away to Accra and Kumasi.”
President Akufo-Addo gave the assurance that the Common Fund allocations to the Chief Executives would be regular and on time, but asked them to work on their internally generated funds, as they would not make the progress they should if the development programmes of their localities were solely dependent on the relatively meagre sums they got from the Common Fund allocation.
“Please apply your DACF (District Assemblies Common Fund) judiciously towards the execution of planned and approved projects. It is not for recurrent expenditure,” he said.
“It is a good idea quickly to get your Assemblies to restructure your financial operational system and targets, to take advantage of the new initiatives introduced by government to promote accelerated economic growth.”