The passage of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill, is one sure way Ghana can make a headway in the fight against corruption, Mr Raphael Godlove Ahenu, Brong-Ahafo Regional Secretary of the Brong-Ahafo Network of Non-Governmental Organisations (BANGO), has said.
He explained the RTI Bill laid the foundation for the building of good governance, check irregularity and corrupt practices in public life and also promote grassroots participation in decision making processes.
Mr Ahenu, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Global Media Foundation (GLOMEF), a Sunyani-based NGO championing the course of the passage of the bill, was speaking at a focal group discussion on the RTI bill at Odumase in Sunyani West District.
Organised by BANGO, the meeting was attended youth groups, women leaders, market women, representatives of NGOs and Civil Society Organisations and Assembly Members.
Mr Ahenu explained the RTI was a fundamental human right guaranteed by the 1992 constitution and was recognized as a right by international convention on human rights.
He expressed concern as the internationally recognized and appreciable tool to fight corruption, Ghana’s RTI Bill firstly drafted in 2002 had been sitting on the table before Parliament up to date without any considerable action.
Mr Ahenu said though Ghana had made great strides in its economic growth by achieving the fastest growing economy in the world in 2011, her desire to ensure that there was transparency in governance could not be achieved without the passage of the RTI bill.
The RTI he explained, however needed to be qualified in accordance with Article 1(1) of the 1992 constitution, which categorically states that “the sovereignty of Ghana resides in the people of Ghana in whose name and for whose welfare the powers of the government are to be exercised”.
Mr Ahenu said this principle was affirmed by Article 21(1) (f) of the same constitution, which grants “all persons the right to information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society”.
“Conventions on human rights, such as the African Charter on Human Rights, European Convention on Human Rights and the International Convention on Civic and Political Rights, provided guidelines about the import of the RTI”, he stated.
Mr Gabriel Gbiel Benarkuu, Chief Executive Officer of Mission of Hope Society (MIHOSO), a NGO and Brong-Ahafo Regional Chairman of BANGO, said people’s right to access information had gained wide recognition as an indispensable feature of a functional democracy.
He appealed to Parliament to pass the RTI as the bill sought among others to promote their interest and the supreme interest of the nation.
Mr Benarkuu was optimistic that with the passage of the bill, the high level of corruption within the public services would be brought to the barest minimum.