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Opinions of Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

The only municipality in Ghana without an Assembly

… Local government legislative blunder leaves Lower Manya Krobo in development crisis.

Story: George Sydney Abugri

It is the only municipality in Ghana without a Municipal Assembly, contrary to the country’s constitution. It has no functioning District Office of the Electoral Commission and as a result, the District Council Elections conducted nationwide in 2010, were not held in the municipality.

In the absence of an elected Assembly, the Lower Manya Krobo Municipality in the Eastern Region is administered by an “Interim Management Team” appointed by the Ministry of Local Government. It has therefore been starved of badly needed developing funding from the central government for nearly three years. While District, Municipal and Metropolitan Assemblies are headed by Chief Executives who have been endorsed by the assemblies, the Lower Manya Krobo Municipality has a Chief Executive appointed by the government.

“In the absence of an assembly of elected representatives of the municipality’s communities, no meetings can be held and therefore no decentralized development policy and programme decisions can be taken for subsequent approval by central government. No development budget can be approved”, says Dr. Edward Narh, president of the Manyaklo Foundation, a development-oriented organization of Lower Manya Krobo.

“Our municipality has been starved of central government funding for three years. Development has stagnated. The roads in the municipality are in such a terrible state. Our people are really suffering and getting more and more agitated by the day. The government has a responsibility to attend to the real needs of the people. The Assembly elections in Lower Manya Krobo must be held immediately in accordance with the constitution”, Dr. Narh said at the end of a recent meeting of the foundation.

Members of the foundation said at the meeting that the situation at Lower Manya Krobo was difficult to understand. Some of them said they wondered if what was happening was a case of gross incompetence or an orchestrated and malicious neglect of the municipality on the part of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

Dr. Narh traces the origin of the crisis in Lower Manya Krobo to 2010, when a Sub Legislation Committee of Parliament, acting on the Local Government Instrument 2010, LI 1983 which provides for the creation of new district electoral areas and the designation of council units, illegally aligned seven electoral areas in the municipality.

The seven areas, Zongo New Town, Akutue, Osukutu, Bungalow, Amedeka, Salon and Natriku all at Akuse which are originally part of the Lower Manya Krobo Municipality in the Eastern Region, were aligned to the Dangme West District (now Shai Osudoku) which is in the Greater Accra Region! He said the blunder sparked off a boundary dispute that led to the suspension of the Assembly elections in the municipality in 2010. His account of the origin of the crisis is corroborated by the Hon. Abgo-Tetteh, the government appointed Chief Executive, who has in correspondence with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, given further details about the situation in the Municipal area.

He explained that Legislative Instrument 1983 was passed in 2010 to give legal backing to the creation of new electoral areas and to reduce the number of Unit Committee members from 15 to five in every electoral area. He said following the creation of new electoral areas, Akuse and Natriku which had been part of Lower Manya Krobo in the Eastern Region, then became part of Dangbe West District . “This not only changed the district boundary, but also sought to move the whole of Akuse and Natriku areas to another administrative region-the Greater Accra Region” he further explained.

The Municipal Chief Executive said the development led to “huge protests” by the Lower Manya Krobo District Assembly, the Manya Krobo traditional Council and the youth of the area. “For fear of their lives, the Dsitrict Electoral Officer and his staff closed down the District Electoral Office and deserted their post and as a result the nation-wide District Level elections were not held in the area”, the Hon. Agbo-Tetteh informed the ministry.

The people of Lower Manya Krobo sought legal redress in the courts. On June 13, 2012, the Supreme Court resolved the boundary dispute with a ruling that retained the affected areas as part of Lower Manya Krobo. The resolution of the boundary dispute notwithstanding, the municipality has remained without an assembly.

Dr. Narh said traditional rulers, the youth and people of the area find it “most disturbing that no reason has officially been assigned for the continued delay despite the Supreme Court adjudication of the boundary dispute and the numerous efforts and calls by the chiefs and people of the area to get the assembly back on the track.”

“If it is the case that the people of Lower Manya Krobo have done something wrong against the government, the government will do well to let the people know, so that they can make amends”, a political activist said at the recent meeting of the Manyaklo Foundation to discuss the crisis. He added with undisguised sarcasm, that the people of Lower Manya Krobo which he claimed is an electoral stronghold of the ruling National democratic Congress, may have done wrong in giving the party’s presidential candidate more than 30,000 votes in the 2012 election.

The paramount chief of Manya Krobo, Nene Sakite II who is a retired educationist, says the administrative and development crisis at Manya Krobo have stalled the fulfillment of a promise made by President John Mahama, that a proposed university for the Eastern Region would be located at Krobo Odumasi. In a recent letter to the Minister of Education dated April 22, 2013, Nene Sakite described Lower Manya Krobo as “the cornerstone of education in the Eastern Region.” He said most of the first educational institutions at Odumase Krobo were established by church missionaries in the 19th century. Manya Krobo was therefore an ideal location for the proposed university.

That apart, Manya Krobo is strategically located for the university as it is centrally located among six districts and municipalities in the Eastern Region. He said the traditional authorities had made 200 acres of land for the establishment of the proposed university. Manyaklo president Dr. Narh who also commented on the proposed university observed that although a committee had been set up to expedite action on the university project, there was mysteriously not a single Krobo native on the committee and said the anomaly needed to be addressed immediately. In the absence of an Assembly to regulate their activities, Mr. Sam Nano, a member of the Manyaklo Foundation revealed, operators of heavy duty tipper trucks had invaded the Lower Manya Krobo area which is noted for its vast limestone deposits and were carting limestone from the area to feed the cement processing firms in other parts of the country.

He said this had worsened the state of the already bad roads. “These days, very few motor vehicles go to Asesewa, Sekesua, Akateng which are major food crop growing areas in the Eastern Region to cart foodstuff”, he said.

With much fewer vehicles now on the roads, there is frequent overloading of the reduced numbers of transport vehicles and people and foodstuff are crammed together into trucks. Many vehicle drivers now make a very long detour through Somanya-Nkurakan instead of using the main Odumase-Asesewa road, to the inconvenience of traders, businessmen and women and other commuters. He said the Odumase-Oterkperlu and the Kpong-Somanya-Akuse roads were the worst because of their frequent use by the trucks transporting limestone. “When he graced last year’s Ngmayem festival, the President assured us that rehabilitation work on some of the roads would soon begin but the people of the area are yet to see any sign that the rehabilitation project is about to begin”, Dr Narh disclosed. The recent meeting of the foundation to review the crisis ended with a renewed call to the government to respect the constitution and ensure that members to the Assembly are elected without delay and a substantive Chief Executive nominated and endorsed. Mail: Web: