Mama Agblatsu the thirdI, a Queen of Ho-Bankoe on Thursday explained that the suspension of an intended demonstration in Ho was in deference to President John Mahama, to give him the benefit of the doubt, to redeem his latest promise as President.
Mama Agblatsu gave the explanation in response to issues raised by a Civil Society member on the influence of Chiefs in the Volta region in holding public officials to account.
This was at a workshop for Civil Society Organisations (CSO) as part the “Parliamentary Awareness Project” titled “Organizing ourselves for Parliament” organized by “3Heads and A Pen (3HP) Production,” “Speak Africa Foundation” and “Citizens’ Network Democracy and Economic Development,” (CINDED).
The youths in the Ho Municipality had intended to hold a demonstration last week to protest against the perceived failure of government to fulfill a number of promises to the Volta Region.
Coincidentally President Mahama paid an unannounced visit to the region to inspect work on uncompleted portions of the Ho-Adaklu-Adidome-Sogakope-Accra Highway about which segments of the region including the House of Chiefs raised serious questions.
President Mahama took the opportunity to address the chiefs and people of Adaklu and had audience with the Chiefs of Asogli.
Mama Agblatsu said the suspension of the demonstration was within a deadline, and urged residents within the municipality to hold their red bands and other paraphernalia in readiness, should President Mahama fail to make good his assurances.
She explained that the chiefs only acted as traditional decorum, demanded in giving an elder the benefit of the doubt, in resolving a mis-understanding.
The Civil Society member had expressed displeasure at interventions by chiefs anytime residents wanted to express their frustrations through public demonstration.
The CSO member said the Chiefs did not seem to be suffering as much as the citizenry, hence their perceived inclination to align with officials.
Regarding demands on Members of Parliament (MPs) for solving domestic problems such as school fees, support in meeting funeral expenses among others, the CSO member said such demands came from relatives and close allies of the MPs and not just anybody.
Nana Fredua Ofori-Atta, Chief Executive Officer of 3HP said CSO must educate the citizenry on how best to engage MPs in order to uphold their (citizens’) dignity.
He said such engagements must be decent, based on issues, knowledge and understanding of those issues.
Nana Ofori-Atta said the elevated positions of those in positions of trust, must be respected by the citizenry without compromising on their right to hold such people accountable.
He said the citizenry were to blame if they perceived public officials to be insincere because of the stampede to fawn on them for undignified favours.
Nana Ofori-Atta said demonstrations should be the preferred last step to holding public officials to account instead of violence.
He advised CSOs in the region to network, share information and knowledge, and take the initiative to organize forums for the citizenry to engage their MPs.
Nana Ofori-Atta asked CSOs to set up offices and procure copies of the 1992 Constitution and Standing Orders of Parliament.
He asserted that vibrant independent CSOs are the bedrock of citizenry participation in governance and democracy, accountability and transparency.
Mr Kwadwo Afari, CEO of CINDED who spoke on mobilization towards building a grassroots movement asked the CSO to first identify problems that must be resolved, the solutions and strategies that must be adopted to resolve them.
Mr Afari enumerated a five-step approach in achieving positive results.
These are identification of the undecided elected officials, determine how he or she makes decisions, recruit 10-20 registered voters in the MP’s constituency or district, educate the activists on the pros and cons on the issues on which the MP would be engaged.
Each activist must recruit three other people who live within the MP’s constituency or district and establish a network among them.
Mr Afari said before a CSO engaged a Member of Parliament (MP) it must communicate this intention to the MP or the public official.
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