Former President, John Dramani Mahama has lauded the rich experiences and contributions of Prof. Kwamena Ahwoi and Dr. Callistus Mahama in promoting and sustaining Ghana’s decentralisation system.
He recounted how his administration benefited from the fountain of wisdom of the duo that led him into making certain important decisions and reforms in the local government system.
Launching a Book co-authored by Prof. Ahwoi and Dr. Mahama titled: “Decentralisation Reforms in Ghana: The Experiences of the Fifth and Six Governments of the Fourth Republic” at the British Council in Accra, Mr. Mahama said it took the wisdom and ingenuities of the two professionals for his government to realise that some key institutions were part of decentralization.
He mentioned institutions like the Ghana Health Service and Ghana Education Service were actually supposed to form key part of the decentralization but were exempted from the process.
“So even though we had District Chief Executives, institutions that should report to the chief executives were reporting to their central ministerial authorities.
It was decentralisation in name, but the actual legal status were not properly put in place”.
The new book was published by Winmat Publishers Limited in 2018, and has about 188 pages, a foreword by Mr Mahama, the Former President.
The Book was reviewed by Dr. Esther Oduraa Ofei-Aboagye.
It is structured in 10 main chapters, namely, Decentralisation Reforms: the Genesis, the National Decentralisation Policy Framework (NDPF1)/National Decentralisation Action Plan (NDAP1): Thematic Content and Implementation, Implementing the NDPF1/NDAP1: Decentralisation and Legal Reforms, Implementing the NDPF1/NDAP1: Administrative Decentralisation and Implementing the NDPF1/NDAP1: Development Planning.
“Other chapters are implementing the NDPF1/NDAP1: Spatial Planning, Implementing the NDPF1/NDAP1: Fiscal Decentralisation, Implementing the NDPF1/NDAP1: The Role of Development Partners and the Sector-Wide Approach, NDPF2 (2015-2019) and the Seventh Government of the Fourth Republic: Quo Vadis Decentralization Reforms?
The book , which has five sets of appendices provided a ready reference to the relevant legislation namely, constitutional instrument, legislative instruments, a personality index and a general index.
It also provides a good listing of documents, reports and literature that serves as references for researchers, legislators and other parties who would be interested in work that has gone on in Ghana’s decentralisation experience particularly between 2009 and 2016.
The Authors, Prof. Ahwoi and Dr. Mahama used an interesting choice of words in the first paragraph of the preface, describing the period between 2009 to 2017 as one of the “unprecedented frenetic activity in the area of decentralisation reforms and their implementation”.
Chapter one of the Book provides a valuable whistle-stop tour of Ghana’s efforts at decentralising administration and development management and the antecedents of assembly system of local governance.
The Chapter two reflects on National Decentralisation Policy Framework 1, which indicates that of the 10 thematic areas of the policy, five performed , namely – political decentralisation, administrative decentralisation, decentralised planning, fiscal decentralisation and institutional arrangements for policy coordination.
The last chapter sets out the agenda that the seventh government was expected to address.
In the area of political decentralisation, that included; the constitutional review commission’s recommendations such as making the local government system partisan.
Another was the future of the Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee (IMCC) and its relationships vis a vis the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the Office of the Head of the Local Government Service.
The Book also reflects on an institutional dilemma that bedevils the nation, the merger of social welfare and community development at the district level; whether it is feasible or still relevant, given that the Book indicates that Department of Gender, Social Protection and Community Development was envisaged as an administrative reform.
An important discussion in that chapter is around disability issues and decentralisation of national obligations to realising their rights.
Also an important agenda item is to develop the LEAP programme to the district level.
The chapter concluded that popular participation should result in job and employment creation opportunities; and there should be effective dissemination of information about decentralisation and local government best practices.