In line with its core mandate to capacitate the local government practitioners (AssemblyMembers), the National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG) kick started the nationwide sensitization workshop at Tamale on the theme “Effective Strategies for citizens engagements and participation”.
The role of citizen/ popular participation in the development of decentralisation and local government administration cannot be underestimated in the governance process, it’s the fulcrum around which democracy is given meaning at the local level.
Act 240 of the 1992 constitution, clause (1) states that “Ghana shall have a system of local
government and administration which shall, as far as practicable, be decentralized”. The constitution designated the Metropolitan Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) not only as the highest political, administrative and executive authority in decision making but equally give them the right to formulate plans, strategies and programmes to stimulate economic development of the District through the mobilization of the available natural and human resources.
Undoubtedly, citizen’s participation in governance entails ordinary citizens conducting an assessment of their priorities and needs and based on an understanding of these, making an effort to participate in policy, programme or project planning, implementation and monitoring. Citizen participation is important for improving public resource management and reducing corruption. It makes public servants and political leaders more accountable to the people.
For citizen participation to work, transparency or access to government information is crucial.
In addition, representatives of groups who will be affected by decisions should be included in the relevant decision making processes. It is in this context that the constitution and other various pieces of legislation obligates public sector institutions to not only provide opportunities for meaningful popular participation in their activities, but also ensure that people have the ability to take advantage of the opportunities provided.
In his welcome address read by the research officer, the President of NALAG, Hon. Felix Mensah Anang-LA, who is the Metropolitan Chief Executive of Tema Metropolitan Assembly, stated that “it is our firm conviction as National Executive Council (NEC) that equipping our members who are the key stakeholders and the practitioners with the requisite information and the skills to effectively discharge their duties and function that the constitution requires of them is not only critical but essential and effective to enhance local government administration and local government development.He further stated that “I believe that after this training and capacity building session each
would go to their respective assemblies to make an impact in the area of citizen participation which is the fulcrum around which local governance administration revolves.”
The training is aimed at over 800 selected participants from across the 216 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assembly (MMDAs) in the country.