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The RTI Bill – No more dilly-dallying

botchway December 17, 2018

 

Ghana’s 1992 Constitution guaranteed the Right to Information as part of fundamental human rights. This is also recognised under International Conventions on Human Rights.

Thus, we were on the correct track when we included it in our constitution, hopeful that, at least, our nation can be counted among the global civilised nations which abhor violence and shady deals bordering on corruption.

However, the nation’s great expectation to be counted among such advanced nations, as far as adherence to the tenets of human rights is concerned, has long melted away.

The Right to Information Bill has simply become a scarecrow to successive governments, especially, those whose officials relish corruption of all colours.

The Bill was first drafted in 1999 during the administration of Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings (Rtd). No positive action was taken since then, till in 2002, when various groups favouring the immediate passing of the Bill emerged and seriously pressed for action to be taken immediately.

That was during the reign of the “Gentle Giant”, John Kofi Diawuo Agyekum Kufuor, a chip of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) block, which always turns its back to all acts of corruption.

The Right to Information Bill was specifically drafted to give meat to Article 21 of the Constitution 1(f): “All persons shall have the right to Information, subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary for a democratic society.”

After the emergence of the groups which favoured the immediate passage of the Bill in 2002, the Bill was reviewed three times – 2003, 2005 and 2007 – a palpable sign that then President Kufuor was very serious with its passage. He was, however, not successful till his reign came to an end.

In popped up with the National Democratic Congress, which won the 2008 elections. The party saw a golden chance of using the popular RTI to win votes for the 2008 and 2012 elections. Thus, it included it in its manifestos, and religiously used it in its campaigns, seriously assuring Ghanaians of the passing of the Bill when it won the elections.

The Bill was presented to Parliament for consideration, leading to the government signing unto the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Initiative, thus giving a signal for its commitment to pass the Bill into law.

The Bill’s final journey so to speak at this time, was in November 2013, when it was formally laid before Parliament. After two years, in 2015, the Bill was moved for second reading in Parliament, but in October 2016, it was withdrawn and replaced with a new one, which was immediately laid.

With the victory of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the 2016 elections, the sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republican Ghana was dissolved, followed by the swearing-in of new Parliament in January 2017, the Bill was re-laid by the new government of President Akufo-Addo.

As can be seen, the Right to Information Bill seems to be “kaakaamotobi” to those who relish acts of corruption and will make spirited efforts to discourage its passage.

The Chronicle, however, thinks that the RTI Bill will immensely enhance the fight against corruption presently being waged by the Nana Akufo-Addo administration.

The paper, therefore, urges the government to see to it that the Bill is passed before the ember of the year dies out, as assured by the Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.

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