A flip through the contribution of Dr. Callistus Mahama to decentralization in Ghana on his birthday

Feature Article A flip through the contribution of Dr. Callistus Mahama to decentralization in Ghana on his birthday
JUL 25, 2023 LISTEN

On Your Birthday Sir,
I wish to start this episode by first wishing you, Dr. Callistus Mahama, a special birthday. It is indeed a blessing to be alive, active and still contributing to the positive growth of humanity, Ghana and the world at large. Your reward is not just in heaven but on the lips of many whose lives your benevolence has had a touch on.

Ghana, a small country where tongues are always begging to wag, as usual had a free fall to gossip on an alleged witchcraft followed by lynching and torturing of a 90-year old Akua Denteh in small community call KAFABA, in July 2020. This torturing exercise was well conducted by a self-styled fetish priest and her accomplices. Thankfully, the criminal prosecution has ended with some convictions.

Indeed, when the conversation waged, as usual of the media and the agenda setters of this country, all the people of KAFABA and by extension the people of Kpembe Traditional area and Gonjaland as a whole were branded “witches’ and “murderers” at the same time. Most commentators never took the pain to know where KAFABA was and who her illustrious sons and daughters were. Well, if you didn’t know, one of the illustrious sons of KAFABA is Dr Callistus Mahama—a man who is neither a witch nor a murderer. Indeed, a man who has distinguished himself in both academia and in public service. A simple, result-oriented, principled and hard working man whose character is unquestionable and with an unblemished reputation.

I had to take some time off the usual gossip centres just to personally know the person whose path has crossed with mine. Before I could get to know the real Dr. Callistus Mahama, I stopped wondering why the likes of Abdul Hayi Moomin and his class of “gossips” kept their ranks closed with him.

Quite a private man, with a PhD in Land Law and an Mphil in Land Economy, both from the Cambridge University, England, and BSc Land Economy from the prestigious KNUST, Dr. Callistus Mahama has had his footprints in many an institution in Ghana. Tracing these footprints in human resource development, Dr Callistus has paid his dues for about half a decade (2004 – 2007) as a lecturer in the Department of Land Economy in his alma mater, KNUST. During the same period, he doubled as a Junior Partner at the Valuation and Estate Service Ltd, Kumasi, Ghana. And almost the same period (2004 – 2005), Dr was also a Junior Partner with Padfield and Woodman Associates, a UK firm based in Kumasi.

Dr. Callistus’ appointment in March 2013 to head the Local Government Service was preceded with hard work and dedication in the area of local governance for yet another half decade. Three years of service as a Deputy Director at the Tamale Campus of the Local Government Institute and about another three years in the same position at the Accra Campus of same institution until 2013, was no mean a period and valuable contribution to Local Government sector. So, his appointment in 2013 to head the Local Government Service was spot on just as it was meritorious.

Established in 2003 by Act 656, the Local Government Service had its fair share of transformation and reformation under the 4-year leadership of Dr. Callistus Mahama. No wonder he was lauded by Head of Co-operation at the EU delegation to Ghana, Mr Ignacio Burrull for the lead and effective role he played as the Chairman of the Decentralization Sector Working Group in the decentralization drive of Ghana.

As Head of the Local Government Service, Dr. Callistus did not just see a position or an office to occupy, but an institution to transform into an effective and efficient development machinery. As the Executive Secretary to the Inter-ministerial Co-ordinating Committee, he spearheaded the bi-partisan process of reviewing the First National Decentralization Policy Framework and Action Plan, and eventually led the development of the Second framework anchored on five thematic areas. These included: political and legal reforms (political decentralization), administrative decentralization, fiscal decentralization, decentralized planning and popular participation.

Indeed, many a Ghanaian did not know that it was out of this second framework the country realized very important legislations and strategic reforms for effective governance and decentralization to reflect what the framers of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana envisaged.

In fact, under each of the five thematic areas, there were corresponding legislations and reforms to effectuate the efficient decentralization machinery for effective and seamless service delivery.

The following legislations and reforms were realized under the first theme, political decentralization: Local Governance Act, 2016 (Act 936); National Sports Authority and Youth Authority Act, 2016 (Act 934); Local Government (Sub-metro and District Councils) Establishment Composition and Functions Instruments, 2016; Land Use and Spatial Planning Act and National Development (systems) Regulations.

Under the second theme, thus Fiscal Decentralization, the following reforms were realized: the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) was developed for the effective implementation of the Regional Integrated Budgeting System (RIBS), and a sector wide approach to decentralization. Also, under the third theme, Administrative Decentralization, the Inter-service and Sectoral Collaboration and Co-operation Systems (ISCC) was developed to among others serve as an integrated service delivery system between the Local Government Service, MDA’s, SoE’s and NGO’s.

The forth theme, Decentralized Planning realized the following legislations: Land use and Spatial Planning Act, 2016 (Act 925); Public Procurement (Amendment) Act, 2016 (Act 914); and National Development Planning Instrument. Finally, under the firth theme, Popular Participation, a national framework for popular participation and a Practitioner’s Manual was developed to improve engagement, accountability and service delivery.

The above reforms and corresponding legislations were the products of the Second National Decentralization Policy Framework and Action Plan, which was developed under the supervision of Dr Callistus Mahama as the Executive Secretary to the Inter-ministerial Co-ordinating Committee (IMCC) on Decentralization. Flipping through his farewell message to the Local Government Service (LGS) and its staff in March 2017, I was not surprised when Dr Callistus proudly intimated that he took very tough decisions as head of the LGS as a display of his good will and the collective interest for the service and Ghana at large and not for his personal interest.

So, next time you hear the name Kafaba, please do not tag the name to witchcraft or lynching, but to academic excellence and selfless service to mother Ghana. Next time when you hear that East Gonja has indeed contributed to academia, let your search spread wide beyond the likes of Dr. Clifford and others to also catch Dr. Callistus. And when next you are looking for those who have contributed immensely to national development from Gonjaland, please let your search engine not jump over Dr. Callistus Mahama.

Today, we are all witnesses to the effective and smooth administration at the Office of H.E John Dramani Mahama. Maybe, just maybe, some were somehow ambivalent of the appointment of Dr Callistus to play the administrative role (aide) in this office. I will forever be proud to read and learn from you.

Once more, a Happy Birthday to Dr. Callistus Mahama, Aide To H.E John Dramani Mahama.