Former President Jerry John Rawlings has expressed concern over what he described as a breakdown of the social sense of responsibility among the citizenry, leading to a rise in indiscipline and lawlessness in the country.
He said unlike in the past where laws were strictly enforced to compel people to be responsible for their own actions, robust structures to instil a sense of discipline in the citizenry had eroded in present times.
In the view of the former President, there was so much laxity in the country’s democratic structure such that people took undue advantage of the freedom they enjoyed and engaged in insanitary practices, including indiscriminate disposal of waste and open defecation.
Mr Rawlings was speaking when some assembly members from the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) paid a courtesy call on him at his office in Accra last Monday.
“There is so much freedom today which is not making people become responsible for their actions. In the olden days, we established structures at the local level that ensured that people who went contrary to the law were punished.”
“We set up tribunals with its members including opinion leaders in the communities who punished wrongdoing. Unlike today where our gutters are choked, you dared not throw rubbish into drains or defecate at the beaches.”
“The collapse of the traditional courts paved way for people to go unpunished and, with time, our social sense of responsibility collapsed,” Mr Rawlings said.
About 30 assembly members drawn from the Okaikoi South, Ablekuma South, and Ashiedu Keteke sub-metros made up the delegation that paid the visit.
The visit, according to the Presiding Member of the AMA, Mr Alfred Adjei, who led the delegation, was for the assembly members to recognise Mr Rawlings’s contribution to the restoration of the local governance system in the Fourth Republic.
“We also want to tap into your rich experience in matters relating to local governance as the first President of the 4th Republic,” he added.
In line with the agenda, the delegation presented a citation to the former President for his “leadership and foresight in restoring local governance administration in the 4th Republic.”
Last week, the delegation visited former President John Agyekum Kufour and similarly eulogised him for his contribution towards the consolidation of the country’s local governance system.
Understand your role
Mr Rawlings urged the assembly members to learn the essence of the local governance structure to enable them to understand their roles in the decentralisation process.
He entreated them to utilise the power that they had to contribute to the transformation of their respective communities.
For his part, Mr Adjei expressed gratitude to Mr Rawlings for honouring their invitation and gave an assurance that his leadership would apply the lessons drawn from the visit.
Describing their visit to the two former presidents as an impactful exercise, he said the assembly would sustain such engagements in the interest of strengthening the country’s local governance system.