The Minister of Information-designate, Mrs Sabah Zita Okaikoi on Wednesday rolled out an information transformation blue print to enhance communication between the government and the people.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra the Minister-designate noted that her priority, when she is given the mandate by Parliament, would be to create a conducive information dissemination environment among stakeholders to ensure responsive governance to augment the President's call for accountability.
“I will immediately institute Editors', Public Relations Officers' and Ministers' forums which would serve as a platform for dialoguing, sharing of ideas and the bridge for constructive criticisms,” she said.
“It would also be used to reduce the incidence of mis-information. I believe that journalists in their quest for information should not be hindered and endangered,” Mrs Okaikoi explained.
Mrs Okaikoi who is a legal practitioner, said the “Meet-the-Press” series would be maintained but decentralized from the national through the regional to the district levels for greater accountability.
Together with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development we would ensure that each district organizes bi-annual “Meet-the-Press,” at the District capitals which may be attended by some ministers of state.
The Minister of Information-designate acknowledged the role of the Information Services Department noting that it would be empowered to perform their statutory duties effectively – to liaise between the government and the people.
“I will initiate moves to revamp and build the capacity of state media houses – Ghana News Agency (GNA); Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC); Ghanaian Times and the Daily Graphic to international standard,” she said.
Mrs Okaikoi, who contested the Dome-Kwabenya Constituency Parliamentary elections in December last year and lost to Prof. Mike Ocquaye, said the National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI) and other institutions under the ministry would also be empowered to appreciable standards.
To ensure access to information, the capacity of public relations officers at the Ministries, Departments and Agencies would be enhanced and motivated to respond to the numerous daily media inquisition.
“The PROs should be the first point of call for information – with the depth of knowledge in communication and facts available to them, they should be able to deal with most of the interviews…we must balance the quest for information by journalists and the work of a Minister,” she said.
On the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill, Mrs Okaikoi acknowledged that the peoples' right to access information had been widely recognized as an essential prerequisite for an effective and functional democracy.
She said in Ghana, it was echoed in Article 21 (1) (f) of the 1992 Constitution which provided for “Every Individual's Right to Information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society”.
“As soon as I am confirmed I will meet the Coalition on the Right to Information and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General to work on the outstanding issues and concerns for its passage….The NDC government is committed to passing the Bill,” Mrs Okaikoi noted.
In conformity with the ruling National Democratic Congress' manifesto, the Ministry would create a conducive environment for the growth of both state and private media – facilitate access to tools and capacity building of journalists.
Mrs Okaikoi said the Ministry would, in collaboration with the National Media Commission, Ghana Journalists Association, the Private Newspaper Publishers Association of Ghana and other allied bodies, ensure responsive journalism.