In order to strengthen Ghana’s democratic institutions to curb corruption at all levels, Prof. Henry Kwasi Prempeh, Executive Director, Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) has advocated the need to empower citizens to actively participate in the anti-corruption fight.
Prof. Prempeh bemoaned the lop-sidedness of the citizen-government or citizen-public institutions relationship in the system, adding that the citizens should be empowered to take action beyond complaining and protesting.
Prof. Prempeh made these remarks during a National Dialogue organised by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) with support from the European Union (EU). The dialogue was themed: “Strengthening Our Democratic Institutions”.
The CDD-Ghana Executive Director charged citizens to hold duty bearers accountable, noting that then NCCE and CSOs have to do more to empower the citizens.
“Citizens really need to understand that in a democracy, power really resides with them” he stated, adding that the citizenry needs to recognise that democracy is not merely about freedom of speech but about a certain power relationship between the governed and governors.
With regards to natural resource management in the country, Prof. Prempeh called for the realignment of incentives for individuals to mount a prosecution against organisations and entities caught in illegalities and abuse of the environment.
He encouraged Ghanaians to have a rethink of citizenship that undergirds our democracy and close the gaps inherent in the whole concept. He challenged the NCCE and CDD-Ghana, as well as other Civil Society Organisations to get down to the basics and begin to flesh out how to explain to the people what citizenship really means.
“We need to come up with a democracy in our language which really communicates and signals to the people that there are fundamental transformation and reordering of power relation between the state and the citizens and that this governance power resides in the people” he stressed.
To strengthen our democratic institutions, Dr. Esther Ofei-Aboagye, Chairperson of the STAR-Ghana Foundation, called for adequate resourcing of democratic institutions as well as investing in the human resource capacities of these institutions.
She called for the review of the oversight system within Ghana’s democratic institutions so that those appointed to the Boards and Councils would be people who have the technical know-how to guide these institutions.
Likewise, the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mr. Henry Kwabena Kokofu, reiterated the need for more collaboration among relevant stakeholders championing issues on democracy to ensure the strengthening of democratic institutions.
The Head of Governance of the European Union (EU) in Ghana, Maria Louisa Troncoso, noted that the EU will continue to support the Government of Ghana with grants to build the institutional capacity of state institutions in the Governance Sector.
“Since 2016, the focus of the EU’s support has been in the area of Accountability, Rule of Law, Anti-Corruption and Environmental Governance, a programme we term as ARAP,” she said.
She said the focus of ARAP was to promote good governance in Ghana by reducing corruption and improving accountability and compliance with the rule of law, through which a number of institutions including the NCCE, Ghana Police Service, The Commission for Human Rights, and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO), the Legal Aid Commission and EPA.
Ms. Josephine Nkrumah, Chairman of the NCCE, in her welcome remarks, stated that “strong institutions are critical to consolidating the gains made in our democratic practice that ultimately ensures that the child, the mother, the person with a disability, you and I are the ultimate beneficiaries to the dividends of sound governance, minimised corruption, enhanced public accountability and increased citizenry participation”.
She entreated Ghanaians to amplify and sustain efforts for the much-needed reform to strengthen democratic institutions for ourselves and posterity and harness the true blessings of liberty, equality of opportunity, and prosperity.