One disappointing thing about the President’s State of the Nation Address was the absence of a clear unambivalent statement on the status of the Right to information Bill. Since 2003 to date, all attempts by campaigners to get various parliaments to pass the RTI have fallen on deaf ears. It appears that this is not an issue which both leading parties seem to agree on.
As Lawyer Akoto Ampaw a lawyer with the Ghana Right to Information Coalition (GRIC)
ones said: “No justifiable reason has been given to explain why since 2003 or 2002, when the fist bill was drafted, we still have not had the bill passed into law.”
It is worth recapping that, the original draft was tabled by John Kufuor’s New Patriotic Party (NPP).Despite two terms of NPP governance, it was never made into law in 2009. This was followed by the era of the late John Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) who also reintroduced the Bill, but it also got lost in maze of indifference and bureaucracy.
Yet, this is a government which is promoting an international conference on press Freedom this year. As our sister organisation, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has noted, it will not do the country any good to host the conference without a RTI law.
The signs that there is no appetite for the Bill are clear. The 1st Deputy Speaker of Parliament has jettisoned all demands for parliament to pass the Bill, saying that it is not a priority. A deputy minister for information in the current NPP administration has also signalled that the RTI is not a priority for the NPP administration because there are other equally important bills in the House.
How can anyone believe that this government is serious about the fight to eradicate corruption and promote social justice when it ignores the one thing that can push the anti- corruption agenda forward? What are Parliamentarians afraid of? What is this government, like the NDC before it, afraid of?
Undoubtedly, passing the RTI will strengthen Ghana’s democratic credentials on the continent and also show that openness and transparency remain the hallmarks of our democratic process.
Public Agenda would like to express its disappointment that, this did not feature in the President’s SONA address, but would like to believe that it is not too late. We join the ranks of those calling for Parliament to consider this as a priority for 2018.
We shall not stop harping on this until this Bill is passed. Of parliament (both sides of the House), the Government and indeed all policy makers have nothing to hide, this is the time to show it. Pass the RTI immediately.