Citizen participation, key ingredient in democracy and development

Takoradi, Participants at a day’s workshop on the National Popular Participation Framework have said the nation could accelerate its current pace of development with effective citizen participation from the onset of policy making.

They said when their involvement and collaboration are harnessed by policy makers from the beginning to the end of any legislation, policy and programme they are better able to relate, make the necessary inputs as well as own the initiative to ensure its successful implementation.

The participants made up of traditional authorities, district coordinating directors, media and civil society among other identifiable grouping, added that the legitimacy or otherwise of every programme depended on the level of participation by the citizenry and it is time the practitioners of the country’s democracy recognized citizen participation as a tool for effective engagement and development.

The workshop, organized by the Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee on Decentralization, sought to strengthen the level of involvement by the citizenry in the practice of the country’s democracy under the National Popular Participation Framework.

Mr Edem Senanu, Lead Consultant to the Project, said democracy did well on popular participation, transparency, accountability, coordinated and systematic approach to initiatives and programmes.

Democracy is not about just voting and going to sleep, it is about ensuring that you follow up on the people you voted for to make sure they were doing the right things, he said.

Mr Senanu said the IMCC has spent over two years in consultation whiles developing the framework aimed at enhancing the level of citizen participation.

He said local assemblies could do more within their locality through good social initiative and engagement with citizenry to voluntarily contribute towards development.

Giving a classical example of Lagos State in Nigeria, the lead Consultant, explained how that state increased its internally generated fund due to constant engagement with the local peoples on policies and programmes that hinged on their development.

Mr Senanu said people were more willing to pay any levy or taxes when they saw positive results and were able to relate with what their finances and contributions were used for by state actors.

According to the framework, effective public participation allowed societal values to be identified and incorporated into decisions that ultimately affected them.

‘It would also harmonize the nation’s aspirations relating to various legislations, policies and guidelines into single practical reference point to improve engagement, accountability and service delivery to all Ghanaians”.

Mr Yusif Gyamson, a former Presiding Member of the STMA, called for a merger of some electoral areas and effective resources allocation to assembly members.

He said deepening decentralization called for effective grassroots participation and the assemblies are key to achieving this concept of democracy.

Source: Ghana News Agency