Whilst centralisation looks at political or administrative power being removed from local or subordinate levels to a central authority, decentralisation allows district, municipal and metropolitan assemblies to run the day-to-day affairs of their people.
An area gains a district status when it has a minimum population of 75,000 people, a municipal assembly must have a population of over 95,000 people and a metropolitan assembly must also have a population of over 250,000 people. The 2010 Population and Housing Census revealed that LANMMA had a population of 111,926 people.
LANMMA was created from the Ga East Municipal Assembly (GEMA) in June 2012 by the Legislative Instrument (LI) 2030.
LANMMA, after four years, is still being housed in temporary metal structures called “containers”. The only permanent structure, an old Madina Zonal Council Office under GEMA, which now serves as the administrative block, is similar to a two-bedroom self-contained with a living room, a toilet facility, a kitchen and a bathroom.
I also observed that not all the offices needed for a full-fledged municipal assembly are set up, perhaps due to the challenge of a befitting permanent office complex.
Why did they not put up an office complex for the municipality before inaugurating it?
According to the Local Government Act 656, a municipal assembly is supposed to have 13 departments. Apart from Urban Roads, which operates from the assembly’s office at Pantang, Department of Agriculture, Community Development and Social Welfare, and Non-Formal Education operate from LANMMA’s rented offices outside the main premises.
This is a photo of three containers; each one houses one department at LANMMA
This appears to suggest that the country is in a serious leadership crisis. Do we plan at all? If we do, then why do we get it wrong all the time? This issue of district, municipal and metropolitan assemblies having challenges is not limited to LANMMA alone but other assemblies in the country too.
What was so disheartening was when I came across the quarterly reports of LANMMA from 2013 to 2015. Some of the challenges their own reports capture are that the late and partial release of Government of Ghana funds to the district has made most departments lose confidence in decentralisation; and most department heads, internal auditors and account staff have inadequate knowledge in the government’s budget system, making implementation very slow.
The reports added that inadequate revenue collectors, unreliable data, ineffective supervision and low incentives have reduced internal revenue mobilisation; and inadequate data, logistics and staff are also a constraint to smooth implementation and monitoring of projects, budgets and revenue collection.
This clearly shows that LANMMA satisfied only the requirement of the minimum population of a municipal assembly.
Would it be unjustifiable for one to make reference to the agitations of some opposition political parties and other civil society organisations in 2012 that said the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) was into gerrymandering?
Gerrymandering is manipulating an electoral area usually by altering its boundaries, in order to gain unfair political advantage. It was in 2012 that the government directed the Electoral Commission (EC), as the 1992 Constitution stipulates, to create 45 more constituencies instead of the EC’s initial plan of 20 constituencies.
According to the LANMMA Annual Progress Report (2014) prepared by the Municipal Planning Coordinating Unit in March 2015, there are 257 members of staff in the assembly. Majority of them operate from temporary metal containers, a sign of disservice to mother Ghana. I suggest that central government must intervene to complete the uncompleted office complex of LANMMA started in 2013.
Our leadership must act in a more proactive, mature and responsible manner as we try to move the economy from developing to a developed one.