Lawyer Samson Lardy Anyenini host of Newsfile on JoyNews and member of the Right to Information (RTI) Action Campaign Group, is calling on the Speaker of Parliament Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye and members of Parliament to read the RTI bill and stop making excuse for the delay in the passing of the bill.
The Speaker reportedly said making access to information from the public sector mandatory through the passage of the Bill without including private businesses was a road that would lead nowhere.
Prof. Oquaye, according to a citifmonline.com report said, “I was not happy, particularly with one aspect. That is, information can only be compelled from the public service, but that private businesses, foreign companies and others cannot be compelled. There is a symbiosis between corruption, corrupt officials and the businesses they do business with. I would suggest publicly that it must encompass everybody; the private sector, the public sector, the business promoters, the business consultants and those people who have some very interesting titles but who themselves are the real promoters of corrupt practices. For those persons, the Right to Information Bill must stretch to all of them before it can really be meaningful.”
These claims did not go down well with Lawyer Sampson Anyenini, who is a strong advocate for the passing of the RTI bill into law.
He expressed great disappointment at the level of ‘ignorance’ exhibited by the Speaker of Parliament and advised the latter to read the Bill to inform himself of its contents.
Lawyer Samson Lardy said he is shocked at the Speaker’s remarks because the bill has clearly stated how information can be accessed with the provision of information commissions which will be created when the bill is passed into law.
“To my utmost shock and biggest disappointment the speaker of Parliament is heard granting an interview and claiming that there is a bigger problem with the bill, and that if it is passed in its present form it will be meaningless because it does not capture the private sector. You can only get information from the public sector, Right Honorable Speaker with the greatest of respect to you, pick the bill in front of you and read it, read just the preamble not any section. Everything has been provided for. Information that should be exempt had been provided for. Where to get the information, there are supposed to be information commissions,” he said in an interview with GhanaWeb.
The RTI Bill, which is expected to make information easily accessible by the media and Ghanaians to boost the fight against corruption, has been in legislation for over 22 years now because successive governments have failed to implement it despite several assurances.
Efforts to pressurize the lawmakers to pass the bill have proven futile over the years.
The Right to information bill according to Lawyer Anyenini has been in existence for over 22 years, hence the reason for various organization to come together to send a reminder to the President to pass the bill into law and help citizens to be able to have easy access to information.
President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on the 6th of March, during the 61st Independence Day celebrations, promised Ghanaians that, the RTI bill was going to be passed into law before Parliament goes on recess. A few days to recess, and it is unclear whether the bill will be laid before Parliament before the break.
“There is, however, one piece of the anti-corruption framework that is yet to be put in place- the Right to Information Bill. It will increase transparency and add another critical weapon to the armoury in the fight against corruption. After many years of hesitation we intend to bring the Bill again to Parliament and work to pass it into law before the end of this meeting of Parliament,” the president is reported to have said.
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