Allowing political parties to sponsor candidates in local government elections could worsen the issue of tribalism in Ghana, a former political science lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has said, Dr Richard Amoako Baah has warned.
The failed Chairman-aspirant of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), who says he is on “forced retirement”, told The Citizen Show on Accra100.5FM on Tuesday, 26 November 2019 that the two strongholds – Volta and Ashanti Regions – of the two biggest political parties in Ghana, the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), risk electing only MMDCEs of their respective parties irrespective of which party is in power at the Presidency, a situation he believes could fuel the exclusion of one or the other ethnic group depending on which party controls the Jubilee House.
The Chairman of the GRATIS Foundation cited the recent example of the omission of some roads in the Volta Region from the government’s list of critical roads earmarked for construction next year when Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta read the 2020 budget in Parliament on 13 November 2019, to buttress his point.
Even though the government has explained that it was a genuine mistake, Dr Amoako Baah said devolving partisan politics to the local level risks exacerbating such a scenario in the strongholds of the parties, especially Ashanti Region merely because it is bigger geographically than the Volta Region.
In his view, the referendum over the matter of whether or not parties should be allowed to take part in local government elections is a “good thing but we must go about it carefully and meticulously”, and wondered how and NPP government could work with NDC MMDCEs or vice-versa, should the referendum pass.
As far as he is concerned, the country should have first allowed Parliament to deal with Article 24(3), a non-entrenched provision which only needs a two-thirds majority to pass, so, as to make the position of MMDCEs electable before tackling the entrenched Article 55(3), which needs, at least, 40 per cent of Ghanaians to turn up to vote in a referendum and 75 per cent of them must vote YES for the amendment to take effect as far as the consideration to allow political parties into the local government election arena is concerned.
“For now, the country will plunge itself into a quagmire if 55(3) passes but 24(3) doesn’t. We will be worsening matters in such a scenario”, he told Kwabena Bobie Ansah on the show.
“We should stop it and work at it carefully and patiently”, he counselled.