By Papisdaff Abdullah.
The Member of Parliament for North Tongu Constituency in the Volta Region of Ghana has blamed the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) for the Mahama administration’s inability to pass the Right to Information (RTI) bill into law.
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa who served as Deputy Education Minister in the Mahama gocernment disclosed that the NPP resisted the erstwhile administration’s resolve to pass the bill into law before it came into power.
“We came very…very close when in the sixth parliament we [NDC] had worked on it, finished everything but then the NPP had won the election, they were not comfortable about Parliament passing that [RTI bill] and they coming to power,” said the minority lawmaker.
The NPP at that time, he said, argued strenuously that as the incoming government they had their own perspectives they wanted to incorporate into the bill before it becomes law.
“So you know, they had the mandate and they had won the majority so we didn’t want to force it. We shouldn’t push it with our majority, let’s allow them to come and tweak it as they may with the commitment that it will be passed soon thereafter,” he said.
“But it is almost two years the passage has not happened. It is always on the order paper, the business statements that are read every week but you don’t see that urgency, you don’t see that dynamism that has accompanied other government priorities. I think that we must bow down our heads in shame that we could have passed this long ago.”
Ablakwa’s disclosure comes on the back of claims by the Deputy Director of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) Dr Franklin Oduro that the governing NPP and the opposition NDC have colluded against the passage of the RTI bill into law.
“…If there’s one, or two or three things that the two main political parties [NPP and NDC] align, agree to, then, it is this RTI that they don’t want. I think that’s what it is,” Dr Oduro who is also the CDD’s Head of Research and Program said at a round-table discussion on METOGU anti-corruption report in Accra.
“My own view is that these two parties have demonstrated that they don’t want the RTI. So there’s no blame game between them, the NDC and the NPP.
“Until they pass that law and not passing any law but the good law, I will still stand by my position that the two main parties…especially those represented in parliament have sort of come into secret understanding that let’s not get this law passage,” he added
The RTI bill was laid before Parliament by the Deputy Attorney General Joseph Kpemka Dindiok March this year.
It has been 22 years since the first RTI bill was drafted under the auspices of the Institute of Economic Affairs, IEA and 16 years since the Executive arm of government in 2002 drafted the first RTI bill.
The draft Executive Bill was subsequently reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007 but was never laid in Parliament until February 5, 2010.