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As the 4th President of United States of America and a co-author of the First Amendment to the American Constitution, James Madison, rightfully put it, “A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps both”.
It is in light of this that “the New Patriotic Party was committed to seeing that the Right to Information Bill sees the day of light”.
According to the Deputy Minister for Railways Development, Andy Appiah Kubi, who made this remarks, in an interview with journalists after the approval of the Right to Information Bill by Parliament, “The only way to ensure accountability and an honest government is through transparency”.
The Bill which was pronounced passed after a third reading in Parliament at about 8:30pm on Tuesday, March 26, is now awaiting Presidential assent to become a full fledged law.
“My words are based on the premise that a government, run rightly, is an extension of the people and therefore passing this bill also gives the public the means to learn about the work the government does behalf of the people”.
The Asante Akim North MP believes the passage of the RTI bill is going to help the public to access information easily, enable them to participate fully in public life, help determine priorities for public spending, receive equal access to justice, and also help to hold public officials accountable.
President Akufo-Addo and the NPP, in the build-up to the 2016 elections, promised to ensure good governance, by eroding the foundations of gross corruption laid by the then President, John Mahama and the NDC government.
The MP believes the public’s expectations still remain high for the NPP government and therefore ensuring effective transparency and putting up anti-corruption frameworks such as the passage of the RTI bill and the setting up of the Office of the Special Prosecutor coupled with the strong enforcement of the Public Procurement Act has been a topmost priority in the party’s resolve to ending corruption.
“In order to maintain the public’s trust, we as a government must be seen as willing to prosecute and punish corruption in all its forms. The people desire assurances of transparency and the Right to Information Bill which the NPP is championing will help to achieve this aim”.” Ensuring a credible, efficient and effective Right to Information is NPP’s priority “, the astute lawyer added.
The RTI bill, first drafted some 22 years ago under the auspices of the Institute of Economic Affairs, IEA when given the presidential assent, is expected to make information easily accessible by the media and Ghanaians to help the fight against corruption.
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”.
Since the first draft of the Right to Information Law so many years ago, the executive and legislature had been tossing it at will between themselves.
Advocacy groups had been putting pressure on Ghana’s legislators to have the Bill passed but this had not yielded any positive results until yesterday.
Observers had criticized successive governments for lacking the political will to pass the Bill.
The passage of the bill would not only make it easy for the public to seek critical information on various issues affecting them, but would also help them to participate and actively contribute to national development.