The Bishop of the Diocese of Damongo, who doubles as chairman of the Ghana Prisons Council has urged Parliament to take urgent steps in passing the amendment bill of Article 243 (1) into law to allow for the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives in the country.
Speaking at the launch of the Diocesan Regional Sensitization on the forthcoming referendum on the election of MMDCEs', he bemoaned the lack of consensus by MPs in approving the bill, adding that, they the Catholic Bishops were unhappy about the development.
"We the Catholic Bishops are following with keen interest, the debate on the bill before parliament to amend article 243(1) leading to the election of MMDCEs' and we are not happy with the trend so far. It is our hope that both parties in parliament will build a consensus to pass the bill by obtaining the two-thirds votes. This is what the church and other religious bodies are expecting from our politicians on behalf of the Ghanaian people," he said.
He disclosed that, even though the referendum is expected to take place in December 2019, just about a month from now, not much is heard about it in public discourse.
According to him, the Tamale Ecclesiastical Province has already initiated a project on citizens' participation in local governance, which offers an opportunity to organise about ten (10) town hall meetings in the four regions of the north.
He said the church was very much concerned about good governance and will always endeavor to make its voice heard on issues of national importance according to the social doctrines of the church.
He added that the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference will as usual offer its support to government,the Electoral Commission,the NCCE and other stakeholders in the efforts aimed at creating awareness and understanding of the issues at stake before, during and after the referendum. This is to enable citizens to make informed decisions and choices.
He advocated for "yes" votes in the upcoming referendum.
The Savannah Regional Minister, Hon. Salifu Adam Braimah disclosed that government is committed to empowering the people to elect their own leaders at the grassroot level.
He wondered why Ghanaians can elect their Members of Parliament and president, but can't elect the people that directly affect their lives.
He noted that the district level election is already partisan, adding that, it's possible for either NDC or NPP MMDCEs' to work with the president towards a common goal.
He called on the NDC to state their position on the election of MMDCE's, whilst exhorting the NCCE to intensify their campaign towards achieving a higher voter turnout.
The District Director of the National Commission on Civic Education(NCCE), Madam Janet Ameseya deplored the low voter turnout that always characterise the district level elections.
To this end, he said the commission has resolved to embark on public engagement to whip up the interest of the citizenry and achieve a higher voter turnout of 40% of registered voters' in this all important national exercise.
He stressed that the referendum is not about amending Article 243 (1) as perceived by some sections of Ghanaians and the media, but rather, the decision of whether to allow or disallow the participation of political parties in district level elections as determined by article 55 (3).
The amendment of article 243 (1) to allow for the election of MMDCE's is to be done by parliament acting on behalf of the people.
The election of MMDCE's he said, will make them more accountable to the people and curtail the winner takes all politics.
Mr.Sualisu Biuwurbi, the Savannah Regional secretary of the NDC disclosed that by the end of this month, the NDC will come out with its official position on the election of MMDCEs.
He however stated that the NDC was the first political party to talk about the election of MMDCEs' under president John Evans Attah Mills of blessed memory. And that, the election was to be partisan, with a total review of the Local Government Act which was to be placed under the direct supervision of the president.
In his personal views, there could be pros and cons in the election of MMDCEs' which needs serious consideration and analysis.
He said there should be a cost-effective way of electing people at the local level and reducing the over partisanship in our body politics.
It can be confirmed that a local radio station, PAD FM, which extensively covered the program has lined up series of activities both in the electoral areas and on radio aimed at helping the electorates to make informed decisions on 17th December 2019.
The function which was held at the Peace and Unity centre at Damongo and chaired by Chief Abdallah Tolodompewura brought together the clergy youth and women groups in the church, opinion leaders, the media among others.