General News of Saturday, 24 March 2018
The founding president of policy think tank IMANI Africa, Franklin Cudjoe, has expressed his disappointment with the Akufo-Addo-led government for its quick ratification of the Ghana-US Military deal when the Right to Information Bill (RTI) is yet to be passed after close to 17 years.
The right to information is a fundamental human right guaranteed by the country’s 1992 Constitution and recognised as a right under International Conventions on Human rights. The bill will give substance to Article 21 (1) (f) of the Constitution which states that “All persons shall have the right to information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society”.
The RTI bill was drafted in 1999 and reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007 but was not presented to Parliament until 5 February 2010.
Mr Cudjoe is questioning why the RTI bill has not been passed despite several calls on government but the controversial defence deal between Ghana and USA had been ratified with “speed” although the agreement had not been exhaustively analysed.
Mr Cudjoe in a Facebook post said: “The US-Ghana Military base deal was passed by only the majority side in Parliament last night. The minority side walked out. There is very little evidence that the deal has been exhaustively analysed and further expansive concessions exacted from the Americans by the interior and defense ministries, judging from the near comical justifications made by the two in recent public discourse. What worries me greatly in all of the drama is the speed with which Parliament passed a deal that will be more beneficial to a foreign entity but has virtually abandoned the Right to Information bill for nearly 17 years. Well, I do hope the RTI bill will be treated with same bravado and speed to enable citizens demand many answers of the military deal. At this rate, we are mere robotic mortals at the feet of our political elites. I am highly disappointed!!”
The approval of the agreement was done by only the majority side of parliament with the minority staging a walkout.
As part of the agreement, the United States (US) government will be spending $20 million in training and supplying equipment for the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), the US Embassy in Ghana, has said.
It also indicated that Ghana has also agreed to bear the cost and take primary responsibility for securing US military facilities in the country.
According to the contract, Ghana has granted US contractors tax exemption.