The Local Government and Rural Development Minister has shot down an argument for the repeal of Clause 2 of Article 244 of the Constitution saying the provision was still relevant and must be maintained.
This follows a suggestion by Ibrahim Sebeyam presiding member for the West Mamprusi Municipal Assembly in the North East region during the confirmation ceremony for the newly appointed Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) on Tuesday.
He called for the review of the clause which governs the election of presiding members for local assemblies in the country.
He argued that the clause, which says presiding members shall be elected by at least two-thirds majority of assembly members, has become irrelevant, costly and retrogressive, as many assemblies are now increasingly finding it difficult to elect presiding members.
"For instance in 2015, one out of 22 districts in the Western region - Tarkwa Nsuem, was unable to elect a presiding member, likewise the Tema Metropolitan Assembly, Tema South, Ga West and West Mamprusi similarly suffered the same fate," he stated.
“Similarly in 2020, six districts in the Upper West region failed to elect presiding members. Again, Bole, West Akyem, Chereponi and Bawku East Assemblies also failed to elect presiding members," he said.
He, therefore, suggested that where a two-thirds majority is not attained, assemblies should be allowed to choose their presiding members with a simple majority.
"When implemented, it will reduce the cost incurred on the assembly to organize meetings and elect presiding members after several attempts, eliminate time wastage, ensure institutional memory and steer development,” he argued.
The Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama, who was present at the same event immediately rejected the suggestion.
"I don't think I agree with you", the minister responded. "I think the Presiding Member is a very important person and it must be established that honourable Assembly Members want that person to be a Presiding Member, so the two-thirds majority is important,” she argued.
However, she conceded that “it’s a problem in electing presiding members.”
"The new model’s standing orders indicate that you are allowed three meetings to elect your presiding member; the inaugural meeting and two more. If after these three meetings, you don't get anybody emerging with two-thirds, they must step aside for two new assembly members to emerge to run for the office, and this should be done within 10 days," she stated.
MCE nominee gets 98% endorsement.
The presiding member for the West Mamprusi Municipal Assembly, Ibrahim Sebeyam was giving his opening remarks at the Municipal Hall where dozens of people, including Assembly Members, government officials, religious leaders and other members of the public, had gathered to witness the confirmation of the newly appointed Municipal Chief Executive, Mr. Issahaku Aremeyaw Somo Lucky.
At the event, all 45 members of the assembly who were present, voted massively to endorse the nominee, giving him an overwhelming 98% confirmation.
The MCE, Issahaku Aremeyaw Somo, was subsequently sworn in by Regional Minister, Solomon Boar amidst wild jubilation by supporters, family members.
“I wouldn't have much to say but just want to pray to the Almighty God to bless the honourable assembly members and I want to assure you that I will never let them down," the MCE said.
Aremeyaw has promised to tackle issues of insecurity and speed ramps in the Walewale township.
Earlier, in an exclusive JoyNews interview, he stated his plans to prioritize poor quality education, low healthcare delivery and transportation challenges.
He pledged to ensure all abandoned projects are completed, including a watermelon factory and district hospitals projects which are both yet to be started months after a sod-cutting ceremony by the vice president.
Residents of the municipal capital, Walewale, have repeatedly agitated for the removal of government appointees and civil service officers accused of doing little to confront the challenges.
As a result, the West Mamprusi Municipal Assembly continues to record the highest incidents of transfer of public sector workers, including security officers, in the whole of the Northeast region.
The last Municipal Chief Executive, Mohammed Abu, was removed from office following street demonstrations by the residents over the same concerns.
Somo Lucky said he would operate an open-door policy and ensure regulate information is made available to the public to maintain stability at the assembly and minimise public agitations.