Member of Parliament for Tamale North Ibrahim Murtala Mohammed has underscored the fact that monetary influence and consideration in the local government elections are worrying to the country in terms of developments and progress in the country.
He said there are individuals who are easily swayed by money and that if the practice is allowed to fester in our democratic dispensation, it will spell doom for the country’s politics and that to him is worrying.
Mr Mohammed recounted his own experience with the process, saying he had assembly members who called him when he was contesting in 2009 for the mayorship of Tamale to canvas for funds to influence his politics but he refused.
He pointed out that if assembly members make decisions on who to become the chief executive of their local authorities solely with monetary considerations, to him such a situation is worrying to our decentralized developments.
The Tamale Central lawmaker cited the local government’s Act, saying the purpose of the law was meant to decentralize our system of governance, that decisions are not taken and imposed on people from the top. That is coming up with programmes, projects and plans, as to how the country can move forward, we must have a bottom-up and not an up-down approach.
Mr Mohammed said the most important aspects of the country’s development planning should be bottom-up rather than the opposite in the country.
He said the introduction of the local government authority into national politics was done in order to decentralize political activities in the country due to the fact that certain political decisions are allowed to be taken on the local level.
Mr Mohammed said this was done because if those decisions are not allowed to be taken from the local level it may have dire consequences on the people there in those local areas.
He fingered a thesis he presented to the Planning Department in 2016 where he had recommended that local governance be made elective.
Mr Mohammed made this observation in an interview with Johnnie Hughes on the New Day show on TV3, Monday, October 18.
He was speaking on the backdrop of the approval of local government authorities across the country after the President submitted his nominees to the various districts and municipalities across the country.
“Now if you are an assembly member to represent an electoral area that someone gives you money and you go to reject a person on the basis of money, not because the person cannot deliver or is unfit for that office but on the basis of that which influences you, which is money, for me that is worrying”, he lamented on the New Day show.
The Majority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has also asked political actors and leaders to immediately begin a discussion on ending monetisation of the local governance system.
The leader of government business, speaking at a Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs engagement with political parties on the monetization of politics, indicated that if Ghanaians continue to blame the political class, the canker will continue.
“This issue of the increasing extensive monetization must be halted. I have said it before and I believe the time to address it head-on is now. We cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand anymore.
“In politics, he plans today he will want to rip tomorrow that is the reality of our times.
“The NPP must be looking to reform itself by way of having introspections of the party’s constitution. I don’t know of any liberal democratic party anywhere in the established democracies where at the level of polling stations, elections are conducted.
“Even for treasurers, wherefrom this that we have imposed on ourselves? Somebody wants to come and manage your finances for you and the person must be voted for? And that person must be spending money to be elected as your treasurer.”
On this issue of the monetisation of the MMDCEs election, a former Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of Akuapem North Dennis Miracles Aboagye, also said vote-buying is a reality with the process as he had to settle the assembly members in his municipality in order to win even though he was a competent candidate.
He pointed out that the few members of the municipalities who are entrusted to decide who should be the leader of the local government could base that decision on monetary considerations from the candidates in order to decide who the chief executive of the local authority becomes.
Mr Aboagye however stated that there are few districts where the members just decide to sit and vote for their leader based on development without any financial considerations attached to their choices.
He said in other places the decision to elect the local authorities is based on partisan reasons and against them on personal vendettas, rancours and resentments simply because such districts are the strongholds of the opposition party.
Mr Aboagye pointed out with the local government election process that a district can have a nominee who is competent and development-oriented but if he/she doesn’t pay the few assembly members voting to elect them, the development of a whole district is held for ransom.
He said if the aspirant does not pay what is termed as “T & T” and “refreshments” money, it will be communicated that they came to the aspirant to listen to him/her on why to vote for him/her but offered them no refreshments nor transportation fare back home.
The former MCE of Akuapem North further disclosed that the members communicate the amount of money they are going to charge to the nominee and coordinate the amount to other districts to base their decision or request on what has been paid to other members.
Mr Aboagye asked what will be the outcome of some nominees who are required to pay as much as GHC 5000 to 70 assembly members, where will he/she get that money from?
He said the charge and cost that comes with being a local chief executive of the local authority can affect the soundness of their minds because if one spends an amount of GHC 100,000 to go and occupy the office as the DCE, there is no way that person can recoup his/her funds in that position.
He made this observation in an interview with Johnnie Hughes on the New Day show on TV3, October 18.
“We are talking about the local gains now, the assembly system is what I am talking about now. The few members who are supposed to take decisions on behalf of the bigger population are what I am talking about, there are districts where they go and sit to vote hundred per cent and they leave, they say we want development, we want to progress. There were those when you listen to them you hear resentments, vendetta and what have you.
“These are realities that are there, they are endemic, they have been there for a very long time, probably it’s just because we now have social media and citizen reporting so we are highlighting it but it’s been there, when I was going for my nomination it was there, I had to give assembly members money even though I could deliver, I will not hide it”, he pointed out on the New Day show.