A two-day training of trainers workshop has been held for some selected civil society groups and journalists ahead of the December 17, 2019 District Assembly Elections and the Referendum on the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs).

The training was organized and facilitated by the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG). The key objective is to build the capacity of the participants to enable them carry out intensive public sensitization and education in their catchment areas to ensure a massive ‘Yes’ votes.

It is also to clarify the misconceptions surrounding the December referendum; sensitize participants to understand the post referendum reforms; and build on previous training programmes that involved the participants, among others.

Themed “the 17th December 2019 National Referendum: Process, Costs and Benefits”the workshop afforded the participants a better understanding of the advantages of the system with practical sessions on how to tackle mind boggling questions that they might face during their sensitization programmes.

A Senior Research Fellow and Chairman of the Faculty of Trainers at IDEG, Prof Atsu Aryee, explained that the need for such a programme arose following the realization that there is likely to be apathy during the period as education on the issue has been low and unimpressive.

A minimum of 40% of registered voters must turn up at the referendum and out of the number, about 75% must vote ‘Yes’ to bring the new system into effect.

“People say they are not feeling the development in the country and this is due to one issue or the other. But we must let them understand what it really means to vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’he stated.

He noted also that most of the current MMDCEs view the process as a threat to their positions and so they are not making any meaningful contribution to make it success.

Explaining the importance of the referendum, the Executive Director of IDEG, Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, said, it will enhance the country’s democratic process such that political parties that do not win national elections would have the opportunity to contest in district level elections and if they win, they can maintain control of the Assemblies.

“It will encourage more inclusiveness in the governance of the country. The competition to be generated among political parties at the local level would lead to improved public service delivery such as good sanitation; better infrastructural development; practical public private partnerships; and economic development at the local level leading to job creation,” he stated.

Prof Atsu Aryee, said some of the potential benefits of the post referendum benefits would include the “the removal of the ‘inherent fetter’ or chain in the enjoyment of freedom guaranteed for political parties under the 1992 constitution.

“More power and resources would be devolved to Assemblies; there would be a consolidation of some of the gains of decentralized local governance including service delivery.

“It would also lay to rest the debate over whether political parties should be part of the MMDAs or not”he stated.

By: Jeorge Wilson Kingson

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