Journal of African Studies and Development Vol. 2(7), pp. 166-175, October 2010 Available online http://www.academicjournlas.org/jasd
ISSN – 2141 -2189 ©2010 Academic Journals
Public administration: Local government and
decentralization in Ghana
Kwame Badu Antwi-Boasiako
Stephen F. Austin State University, Department of Government, Nacogdoches, Texas 75962, USA. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel: 9364686605.
Accepted 29 July, 2010
Public administration as an art is defined in the Ghanaian context regarding decentralization and public officials’ accountability. It examines decentralization, local elections and empowerment. While the paper advocates for regional and district level elections, it uses the literature to argue that local representatives are more accessible to their locals. It questions the current appointment practices by the central government, which has become more partisan than originally intended in the Local Government Act. To affirm the democratic environment of politics in Ghana, it calls for constitutional amendment regarding decentralization and local government elections. Key words: Public administration, decentralization, public officials, accountability, local government elections. INTRODUCTION
As the first sub-Saharan African country to attain political independence since 1957 from Great Britain, the
Ghanaian proclivity for experimentation on issues
including social, economic and political initiatives,
according to Pellow and Chazan (1986) and Ayee (2008),
has turned the country “into a veritable laboratory for the investigation of different approaches to endemic African
problems” (Pellow and Chazan, 1986: 210). One of these
problems is local participation in political decision making in the country’s democratic process (Antwi-Boasiako and
Local accountability becomes effective where local
leaders are elected by their own people hence the
importance of decentralization. “Ghana’s decentralization policy from 1988 to date combines elements of political,
administrative and fiscal decentralization,” among other
things that seek to promote effective governance at the
local level (Ayee, 2008: 234).
This paper provides an overview of theoretical
considerations and ambiguity underlying the argument for
decentralization followed by a brief history of Ghana’s
political system. It then addresses the issues of effective
public administrators (leaders) and decentralization. It
concludes by making a case for local government
elections in the various electoral constituencies: districts and regions, while recommendations are made for
constitutional amendments to allow locals to elect their
own public officials. To understand the role of public
officials in the Ghanaian political environment, an attempt
is made here to define public administration.
DEFINING PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION IN GHANA
The Ghanaian political heads of state, from the first president, Kwame Nkrumah (1957) to John Evans Atta-Mills (2009) have different leadership skills that affirm the
diverse administrative styles of public administrators. This non-surprisingly diverse nature in public administration is
normative in its definition focusing mainly on public
interest (King and Chilton, 2009). Each one of the
leaders, including those not mentioned in this paper, has
had his fair share of public criticisms of maladministration given their administrative styles, yet all of them are more
likely to vow that their actions were in the interest of the public. Ghana, a country of only 54 years of political
freedom, gaining political independence from the British
colonial rule, has had four different constitutions;
however, 21 out of the 54 years of the country was ruled
under military decrees1 leaving only 33 years of
constitutional administration in Ghana.
The literature on public administration and its definition
has different interpretations of the field (Stillman, 2010;
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