General News of Sunday, 7 October 2018
Minister for Information designate, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has challenged citizens to read and understand the RTI bill even before it is passed into law.
Oppong-Nkrumah who is also the governing party’s Member of Parliament for Ofoase-Ayirebi in the Eastern Region said taking steps to understand the content of the bill enables citizens to scrutinize the RTI and join in debates on whether portions need amendment.
The Minister was addressing students of the Ghana Institute of Journalism in Accra on the topic, the Right to Information Bill, the role of Stakeholders.
He said the RTI once passed into law will not only help promote the watchdog role of journalists and ordinary citizens of this country but also help to break the bureaucratic barriers to information on development processes.
“Our democracy is currently under threat because the public relies on lies, conjecture, fabrications and leaks especially on social media platforms. The RTI, when passed, should curtail these obstructions” he told the GIJ students.
Role of Stakeholders
The Information Minister-designate said stakeholders including the government, citizens, the media, civil society organizations and the academia all have key responsibilities in ensuring the RTI achieves the desired purpose. He said it is the role of government as a stakeholder to ensure every necessary arrangement is made to enact the RTI bill into law while promoting timely dissemination of accurate information to the public.
Commitment of Government
Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah said the Akufo-Addo administration is making frantic efforts to ensure the RTI bill is passed into law before Parliament rises at the end of 2018.
“Am sure we are all aware that the bill has currently reached the consideration stage in Parliament. For us in this government we are committed to enhancing accountability and dealing with Corruption in the country. To demonstrate our commitment to fight corruption, the government has established the Special Prosecutor’s Office to prosecute persons found to be corrupt. Nobody will be spared if found culpable “said Oppong-Nkrumah.
About the RTI
The Right to Information Bill is meant to ensure citizens of this country have access to official information from Public Offices on request and without request. The RTI is implicit in the notion that the Ghanaian taxpayers need to have access to the Information concerning what Government does with their money and what government plans to do on their behalf.
The Bill is meant to put in effect Article 21(1) (f) of the 1992 constitution of the Republic of Ghana 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 bill was first drafted in 1999 and reviewed in 2003. It also spells out the establishment of the right to information commission to ensure the independence of the review process.