Professor Joseph R. Atsu Ayee, Dean of Faculty of Social Studies, University of Ghana has called for a national forum on decentralization.

He said participants at the forum should include major stakeholders, development partners, politicians, chiefs and assembly members to discuss challenges affecting the decentralization process and review it for the future.

Professor Ayee made the call when speaking on the topic: “Constitutionalism, Decentralization and the Ordinary Citizen” at the end of the three-day Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) lectures in Accra.

The lectures were under the theme “Fostering constitutional governance in independent Ghana”.

Prof. Ayee noted that although some progress had been achieved in the decentralization programme the process had been slow and led to frustration at the local level.

He said there were structural problems with the process where legal and institutional framework placed too much emphasis on the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to the detriment of the sub-structures, area, town, zonal councils and unit committees that were closer to the ordinary citizens.

Prof.Ayee said even though the standing orders of the assemblies allowed them to use local dialect in addition to the English language in their deliberations it was rarely used because technical documents were written in English.

He said even though the Standing Orders enjoined the assemblies to provide information on their notice boards, few of them had really met the requirement and most rural dwellers were poorly informed of their rights and opportunities available to them.

Prof. Ayee said instead of constitutional provisions such as National Decentralization Action Plan (NDAP) placing more emphasis on economic, service provisions and poverty reduction issues as the key area in the decentralization process it should rather focus on the political objective of the process.

He recommended that more premiums should be placed on the socio-economic objective of the decentralization process as service provision and poverty reduction since they were more tangible than the political objectives seen as utopian.

“As a country, we should move away from the idea that decentralization would solve all our problems overnight and focus an approach that would highlight the short, medium and long term objectives of the process,” he added.

Professor Samuel O. Gyandoh, Junior, Emeritus Professor of Law, Temple University School of Law in Philadelphia, USA who spoke on the topic: “Role of organs of constitution: Matching the practice with the ideal” said the 1992 Constitution by far had the strongest and broadest articulation of intent in the organs of state.

They are Council of State, National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), National Media Commission (NMC) and Commission for Human rights and AdministrProf. Gyandoh said the document was in addition, the most ambitious in efforts to foster constitutionalism in the country’s governance system.

He said even though it ensured that the country’s young democracy was nurtured into maturity, the state must support other civil society groups to push forward the frontiers of democracy and good governance.

The groups are Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Coalition of Civil Society Groups (CCSG) and Institute for Democratic Development.

Source: GNA