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Opinions Wed, 6 Feb 2019

Djokoto’s Diary: Get the RTI bill through!

Morning vibes.

It is another beautiful morning on the Class 91.3 FM Executive Breakfast Show and I am sitting in our sanguine studio with a relentless focus on shifting the political order away from the establishment, slapping the table to emphasise my points!

“We need to create a safe environment and ensure that sole traders and businesses feel they can get on, they can plan, they can invest, they can grow without the fear of robbery, assault and even in certain grave circumstances, murder!” I tell Benjamin Akakpo.

We are halfway through the Class 91.3 FM Executive Breakfast Show and have been engaging the public about safety and security this morning. I’ve been sufficiently angered by our security institutions so much that I consciously, against a personal principle of uncensored freedom of expression, contain my raging sentiments to keep my on-air contributions decorous.

I suddenly notice the producer struggling to signal the host, Benjamin Akakpo; he is throwing his hands about in the air, as though his favourite football club had just netted a screamer in the dying minutes of a cup final, and finally grabs Benjamin’s attention. The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah MP, called-in shortly after that to join the vibrant discussion.

As usual, Akakpo fired away with the most sweetly-worded tough and relevant questions. But the media savvy Kojo, having himself been the darling of the 4th realm until his political baptism in 2016, took great care to avoid any damaging headline stories while answering questions.

I admit that his statements were distinctly diplomatic and, at best, a decent lesson on public relations. But having heard him wind up on the issue regarding the successes of the current administration, I am having second thoughts. Ironically, he refused to speak on the alleged 41 achievements detailed by the Vice-President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia. He was clearly not well-prepped; demonstrating a lack of in-depth knowledge on national matters. He was also sceptical of the numbers that have been widely reported by the media with regards to some alleged 7,000 Ghanaians earmarked for deportation from the United States. Kojo was all at sea, never to recover.

Right to Information Bill.

It is the third year of the Akufo-Addo led administration and, with an elephantine parliamentary majority, the government can still not claim the bragging rights to passing the Right to Information Bill (RTI). Everyone seems to agree that the grand task for Kojo over the next two years is whether or not he can unite parliament and convince his colleagues to pass the bill, within the shortest possible time. If it does not, the government cannot say it has delivered.

I am predicting a long, rainy season of discontent for Kojo Oppong Nkrumah if he cannot get the bill through the august house, where it is being sabotaged, and onto the statute book to settle the decades-long pending passage. The argument that this undue delay has largely abetted corruption in the 4th Republic is increasingly dominating public opinion. And rightfully so. Would he make history or would he just be responsible for spending the millions that the President has allocated for propaganda leading up to the 2020 election?

Columnist: Vincent Djokoto