The Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD- Ghana), has challenged the media to educate and encourage the citizenry to demand accountability and responsible governance from local government authorities.
There is lack of public interest in Local governance, the CDD stated, and therefore, urged the media to influence the public to participate in local governance activities.
The programmes Officer of CDD-Ghana, Mr. PNK Aborampah, stated this at a capacity and training workshop for media practitioners and information officers in Kumasi recently.
About 25 journalist and information service officers from Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo regions participated in the one-day workshop which was sponsored by the CDD-Ghana, in collaboration with the European Union.
The workshop, which was on the theme “Promoting social accountability through citizen participation in local governance”, sought, among others, to assist media practitioners to increase their understanding and knowledge in local governance.
It also sought to influence the media to use their medium in increasing citizen’s understanding and participation in governance process in their respective communities, as well as encouraging the citizenry to participate in local governance through active engagement with structures of local governance.
According to Mr. Aborampah, since the citizenry had willingly given their currency to municipal metropolitan and district assemblies’ to rule on their behalf, “citizens also had the right to ask questions and demand accountability had better use of Public resources”.
This, he stated, would not only strengthen the credibility of local governance, but would also promote accountability in local government.
Expressing concern about the lack of interest in local governance system and its negative effect on socio-economic development, Mr. Aborampah said “after two and a half decades of decentralization, Ghana’s decentralized structures are still fraught with challenges”.
He said Ghana’s decentralization agenda which started in 1988, “had the objective to encourage community involvement in the management of the affairs of the country”
“indeed, it was designed to establish local democratic institutions; engage local populations and communities by transferring discretionary powers, build local capacity; empower the political system to give a voice to the poor people; and ensure efficient provision of services for all” he stressed.
Decentralization is still elusive in Ghana he said after over two decades of implementation however, absolute decentralization and independence of the districts from the central government remains evasive”
“In spite of the existence of elaborate constitutional and legal framework, there is still a communication gap between the district assemblies and the communities for effective activities of the district assemblies,” the bemoaned.
Mr. Aborampah also noted that there was lack of communication and knowledge of district assemblies’ activities, non-enforcement of mechanisms to involve people in districts in decision making and planning, as well as weak structures of accountability, lack of, and inadequate number of expertise in the assemblies to perform proper oversight responsibilities”
According to Mr. Aborampah,” ineffective and apathetic community radio stations and the over-riding influence on the district assemblies by party executives and other related challenges have all contributed to the myriad of problems militating against full realization of the decentralization agenda.”
He said using their medium to create opportunities for the citizenry to participate effectively in governance or monitoring the operations of MMDA’s would promote accountability and enhance good governance at the local level.
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