The Justice and Peace Commission of the Navrongo-Bolgatanga Catholic Diocese in the Upper East Region has launched a campaign to whip-up the interest of citizens in the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) scheduled for December 17.

The campaign programme, launched on the theme: “Participation of political parties and citizens in District level elections,” attracted religious leaders, members of the Regional Peace Council, Civil Society Organisations, security personnel, the media and some members of the public.

In a speech read on his behalf, Most Reverend Alfred Agyenta, the Bishop of the Navrongo-Bolgatanga Catholic Diocese said the mission of the church gave it the right to be concerned about the social and political issues of the citizenry.

He said the church could therefore not be accused of going beyond her specific area of competence and mandate received from the Lord.

Quoting Matthew chapter 14 verse 13-21, Bishop Agyenta indicated that Jesus Christ fed five thousand men besides women and children, and explained that Jesus Christ did not only address the spiritual problems, but was concerned about their material needs of the people.

He said the church encouraged its members to fully participate in decision making that affected their total wellbeing and dignity, adding that “We see the election of MMDCEs as trying to encourage participation of the people in these essential matters that involves ourselves.”

“There is an essential union which exists between the Christian life and human development,” he said.
The Bishop said the church was happy to play a vital role in the exercise because its role was to conscientise its members to make right decisions that affected their lives.

Dr Samson Abagale, the President of the National Justice and Peace Commission who Chaired the function, expressed disappointment at executives of various political parties, and Municipal and District Chief Executives in the Region because none of them or their representatives were present at the programme even though invitations were extended to them.

He called on members of the public to hold their leaders accountable so that they could achieve the development they were eager for, and stressed that “It is a paradigm of change that we need to establish, change of mind set, and change of approach of doing things.”

Dr Abagale, who is also the Dean of Faculty of Applied Sciences at the Navrongo campus of the University for Development Studies, described as unacceptable, the absence of the key stakeholders from the meeting, and said when citizens were not sensitised, stakeholders, especially politicians took advantage to convince them to vote in their favour.

Mr Andrews Akumbutum, the Assistant Director of Administration, the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council, said it was true that local governance in Ghana had come of age and required reforms to deepen decentralization, decision-making and local development.

He was confident of the success of the sensitisation by the Catholic Church because it had a track record of experience and competence and said government welcomed the move by the church to complement its efforts at raising an enlightened civic population for the success of the District Level Election.

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