General News of Friday, 2 February 2018
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has noted that it will be a disgrace for Ghana to host the World Press Freedom Day without passing the Right to Information (RTI) Bill.
On May 2 and 3 2018, Ghana will host the global community for the celebration of this year’s World Press Freedom Day (WPFD). It will be the first time Ghana is serving as the host country for the global event and the only country in West Africa after Senegal to host this important event.
According to the Executive Director, Sulemana Braimah, it is not too late for the government to pass the Bill, and passing the Bill will show the country’s commitment to the pursuit of democratic values.
“It will be embarrassing for us if we host the World Press Freedom Day and we still do not have the RTI bill. It is quite worrying that countries around us and countries in Africa, that we appear to be doing better than, who praise Ghana all the time, have gone ahead to have the Right to Information law in place,” he said.
He noted that it is quite sad that over the period of 6 years, the number of countries that have passed the RTI Bill has increased from 6 to 21, but Ghana is not included.
“We can talk about our three neighbouring Togo, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire and in West Africa, we can talk about Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Niger, Guinea, all these countries have the RTI Bill in place,” he said.
The NPP government, in the build-up to the 2016 elections, promised to expedite the passage of the bill.
The Foundation’s Executive Director, Sulemana Braimah, wants the Akufo-Addo government to pass the bill before hosting the World Press Freedom Day this year.
Meanwhile, the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has promised that government will facilitate the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill this year.
He said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government is committed to enhancing accountability and dealing with corruption.
The Right to Information (RTI) Coalition, hit the streets in September 2017, to raise awareness on the need for the passage of the bill.
The Right to Information (RTI) Coalition expressed disappointment in President Mahama’s leadership for failing to ensure the passage of the bill before he exited.
According to the Coalition, “President Mahama had not demonstrated a strong commitment to the passage of the RTI Bill, despite his party’s promises in their 2008 and 2012 manifestos.”
Many advocates of free speech have criticized successive governments for their lack of interest in ensuring that the Bill is passed.
The bill, which has been in and out of Parliament for over a decade, is yet to be passed in spite of its potential of enhancing access to information in the country.