Right to Information: What you need to know!
I have over the years noted, and grown to understand that most people especially the youth, shy away from policies, laws and other national development-related documents not only because they contain 'big words' - technical terms that make it hard to digest or understand to ensure ownership (relate to and feel part of) and implementation but many don't even know that such policies exist and where they could also access them- be mindful, not everyone can use a computer or navigate the internet in search of policies; others also think such documents are for policy-makers only and persons interested in doing politics. I believe many have attached the same feeling to the Right to Information Bill; it is detrimental to civil-society participation, democracy and national development as a whole.
The Right to Information also known as 'Freedom of information' is simply our 'Right to know'- the right to know what Government is up to, with regards to decision-making, national resource utilization and management and the like, by way of information for free or at a minimal cost. To ensure this right is enjoyed by all- a Bill which will soon become law is before parliament awaiting passage- it states clearly where, how, what, when and from whom one could obtain information needed. There are issues that need to be addressed in the Bill- as it stands now we can do very little to amend or implement because it has not been passed. It will do us all some good if passed into Law.
We need such a Law in Ghana because we have every right to know what decision Government is taking on our behalf, when it is commencing and ending, how it will affect us and who is involved and playing what role? This example will help understand my point; See Ghana as a 'business' and us (citizenry) as shareholders or stakeholders in this business, our government as executives we have chosen by vote to run this business; don't you think we have a right to know the state of the business at any point in time and not necessarily at an annual general meeting- for it could be too late to know and understand why some decisions are taken and contribute to ensure the growth of the business, hire efficient people to assist, take charge or fire workers who aren't effective or like we do say 'causing financial loss' to the business- in this case Ghana?
An existing and functioning Law as such will; allow access to information in government custody, gain knowledge, think critically about governments' decisions and contribute our quota to national development; it will also rid this nation of rumours, leaks and hear-says that the media relies on to inform the public and ensure they gain accurate and reliable information from the right source and report better to the people of Ghana, help check the exploitation of our resources and know how much Ghana is earning, the Right to Information will create a more transparent business environment which will attract investors and create more jobs for people, Also, it will put public officials in check and expose those who divert national funds and resources into their pockets- a tool to fight corruption.
We have every right to know what government is doing on our behalf; demanding for information from government is not a privilege or favour being done us. Let the rest of Ghana know as we synergize to guarantee the Bill's passage and see an environment with free flow of accurate information for national development.
By: Cecil Ato Kwamena Dadzie
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