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Upper West Chiefs Adopt Peer Review Mechanism to Enhance Local Governance

2008-06-26 20:08:56
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CHIEFS IN the Upper West Region have agreed to a self-assessment mechanism, to help identify existing traditional mechanisms, for ensuring accountability and transparency among chiefs in the region, and effective participation in the national governance process.

The concept is dubbed, "Chiefly Peer Review Mechanism (CPRM)" and follows the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), which is an instrument voluntarily acceded to by Member States of the African Union, as an African self-monitoring mechanism, and "Country Self-Assessment," that are submitted to "peer review" by heads of other African States.

The CPRM is aimed at offering chiefs in the three zones of the region, the opportunity to reflect on the issue of accountability and transparency, from the traditional point of view, and submit themselves to peer-review, as a way of sharing experiences, and further enhancing the chieftaincy institution in Ghana.

The Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD), and the Konrad Adeneur Stiftung (KAS), initiated the concept, which would draw lessons from the APRM process, and would be introduced in other regions later on.

For this reason, a workshop was held for members of the Upper West Regional House of Chiefs, and other relevant stakeholders, to adopt a culturally sensitive framework for a mutual CPRM, for chiefs in Wa, last week.

The Executive Director of CIKOD, Mr. Bernard Gury, said studies carried out in recent times, indicate that the chieftaincy institution was still relevant in Ghana, showing the enormous responsibility that Traditional Authorities (TAs) have in achieving the developmental objectives of the country.

In spite of this evidence, he noted, there was reluctance from government, to fully integrate TAs into local government systems, due to the fear of a split in allegiance, especially at the lower levels, where chiefs are more prominent.

"Official integration of TAs in governance and the development process would probably mean allocating public funds to chiefs for their work. However, out of reverence for the chieftaincy institution, it will be difficult to scrutinize them, as is required by law, for accountability of the use of such public funds," he explained.

Another problem is that there were no clear mechanisms for accountability, by chiefs to the people, hence the introduction of the CPRM would create a forum, where these problems can be addressed, to ensure the full participation of TAs in the governance process, and as well enable chiefs to carry out their responsibilities towards the state, particularly at the local level.

According to him, there was the need to resolve the duality in governance, in Ghana, as a major step towards progress, because the chieftaincy institution was based on traditional values, that are understood by the ordinary rural majority.

"Chiefs should be adequately resourced, and allowed to take complete charge of governance at the lower levels, where they are most present, and better equipped to deal with their people, while government agencies take charge of government at the higher levels, where they are most present," he advocated.

"This will however require the chieftaincy institution to comply with certain global standards," he added.

Also, the Senior Programme Manager of KAS, Mr. Isaac Owusu-Mensah, said peer review enhances the credibility of leadership, and also increases the level of accountability and transparency, which is necessary in any governance process.

"This, therefore, informed the CPRM to attain maximum results, from TAs involvement in the country's development process," he said.

He observed that "our traditional and indigenous systems, had their ingrained systems of accountability, which were strictly adhered to by all and sundry," advising that these virtues should be promoted in all traditional areas, to reduce the quantum of unwarranted accusations leveled against chiefs.

In his view, a peer review mechanism for chiefs, would improve the participation of the people in the affairs of their various traditional areas, stressing, "it is important that both the modern state, and the traditional systems, demand participation by all."
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He believed that in the modern state system, a series of advocacy programmes, led by the state machinery, and civil society groups, would encourage the citizenry to participate in the decision-making process, and the implementation of government development programmes, at the district level.

On his part, the Regional Director of the National Commission for Civil Education (NCCE), Mr. Kofi Adomah, indicated that the CPRM would enable chiefs to realize that they could solve the region's problems by sharing ideas, and learn that accountability ensured good governance.

He added that the initiative would further ensure that chiefs conform to agreed standards, and gradually change negative perceptions that people have about them, stressing, "Introducing peer review into the chieftaincy institution, will give the chiefs the opportunity to scrutinize themselves, on the roles they are playing in their various traditional areas, to complement national effort at developing the nation."

source: Ghanaian Chronicle

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