EDITORIAL: Give True Meaning to Democracy
In our recent Editorial titled, 'If this is not job for the boys, what is?' we had stated among other things that, 'Since District Chief Executives as well as the assemblies are all there to see to the administration and development of communities at the local level, the least we can do is empower them to do their jobs.'
We did point out also that, 'Any authority that is placed above them has the potential of undermining their ability to take decisions.'
We had indicated also that, 'Unfortunately, we have over the years paid lip service to the decentralization programme, by holding on to power at the center, rather than devolve it.'
Responding to our story of last Friday, April 1, 2005 in which the Greater Accra Regional Minister had been accused of being reluctant to implement a plan to rid the capital of filth, the Minister has stated that: 'It is illogical for a District Assembly to submit a plan to be implemented by the Regional Coordinating Council. It should be the other way round where policies and programmes of Government are handed down for implementation by the District Assemblies such as AMA.' (Emphasis ours.)
One of the problems that have hindered development in our part of the world has been the lack of involvement of communities in deciding their priority needs.
The lack of communities' participation in deciding on matters affecting them has led to situations where we have had hospitals, markets and schools put up ostensibly for communities, yet were never patronized by the people.
We must state that whereas our call for the reconsideration of appointing Deputy Regional Ministers, was to raise the red flag on the possibility of red tapes getting in the way of policy formulation and implementation, the understanding of the Regional Minister of the relationship that should exist between his outfit and the Metropolitan Assembly is to say the least, very dangerous for development.
It clearly confirms our earlier position that we have over the years been paying lip service to the decentralization process.
If a whole regional minister deems it illogical for a plan to be submitted by District Assemblies to be integrated into regional programmes for implementation, then we are in serious trouble.
The truth about governance is that, the head is only representing the people and is not supposed to be the repository of all knowledge.
The history of representative democracy dates back to the early Greek city states which had had all the citizenry gathered at the Acropolis, to debate affairs of the state, as everybody was expected to have a worthy contribution to offer.
Yet, because of the ever-increasing population of mankind, it became impracticable for all to gather at the same place at the same time: hence evolving representative democracy.
It would be suicidal for our democracy, if our leaders think ideas cannot come from below them. It defeats the very concept of democracy, and is the mother of eventual social unrest.
As the pride of President Kufuor is that his government is a listening government, it would be important that his Ministers demonstrated this abundantly, and not see 'plans' of those in structures under them as not worthy of consideration.
Let us give true meaning to democracy, for as the saying goes, 'nobody is nobody, everybody is somebody.'