The Media Foundation for West Africa (MfWA) has called on government to expedite action on the passage of the long awaited Right To Information (RTI) Bill before Parliament.
It said when passed, the Bill will improve public access to information which will lead to a well informed and productive citizenry as well as promote transparency and accountability.
Professor Kwame Karikari, Board Member of the MfWA, made the call during the launch of the project “Promoting Citizen’s Participation in local Governance through Increased Access to Information” by the MfWA and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
He lamented how such an important Bill has been left to rust in the shelves of Parliament while the country lost numerous benefits.
Prof Karikari also appealed to the Ministry of Communications to improve the weak communication system in the Upper West Region to enhance network coverage in all communities for easy communication.
He also recommended to the National Communication Authority (NCA) to facilitate the establishment of a community Radio Station in the Wa East District to improve citizen’s access to information for a well-informed society.
The Board Member of the MfWA also urged the Ministry of Tourism to take the needed steps to develop the Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary and other potential tourists’ sites to create jobs and promote local tourism for economic development.
Prof Karikari called on the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to improve security in the Wa East and Wa West Districts by improving police staffing in the districts while the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources took steps to stop the illegal harvesting of rosewood in the region.
Prof Karikari said giving information to the citizenry was a right enshrined in the Constitution and appealed to Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in the country to use the media effectively to meet this obligation.
He said the Upper West Region fell short in many aspects of development despite its potential and called on the MMDAs to collaborate effectively with the media in the region to market such potentials to attract investors to come and help harness such potentials.
Mr Amidu Chinnia Issahaku, Deputy Upper West Regional Minister, who launched the project on behalf of the Regional Minister, Mr Sulemana Alhassan commended the MfWA and OSIWA for the project and for its continued effort at deepening good governance in the region.
He said through such complementary advocacy efforts, citizen’s participation in governance was gradually picking up and that Ghanaians were beginning to take interest in issues of governance.
Mr Issahaku said the access to information project was a great opportunity to improve the information disclosure between community citizens and local authorities through weekly radio programmes, quarterly “State of the District Broadcasts” and community forums among others.
Mr Issahaku Tahiru Moomin, Wa Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), pledged on behalf of his colleagues their commitment to work closely with the media to inform the citizenry in order to improve their participation in local governance.
Wa Municipal, Wa East, Wa West, Lawra and Sissala East are the five selected Districts to benefit from the project in the Upper West Region.