What Makes Akufo-Addo Vastly Different From Messrs. Rawlings, Kufuor, Mills And Mahama
I struggled to come up with the most suitable caption for this column, which focuses on the widespread agitation for the passage of the much-ballyhooed Right-To-Information Bill (RTI). We are told that this bill was first drafted during the tail-end of the second term of former President Jerry John Rawlings, as far back as exactly 19 years ago, in 1999. You would have thought that the RTI Bill would have been drafted at least at the beginning of Chairman Rawlings’ first term in office as a democratically elected leader, having already wasted 10 years politically bullying, persecuting, repressing and grossly misleading Ghanaians in the veritable wilderness that was the bloody junta of the erstwhile Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) dictatorship. This was unarguably the bloodiest and darkest era in Ghana’s postcolonial history.
I was, somewhat, amused by the discovery of this ironic origins of the Right-To-Information Bill, because between December 31st, 1981 and at least the end of 1992, Chairman Rawlings, who twice shot his way to power, one such moment culminating in the overthrow of the democratically elected government of President Hilla “Babini” Limann’s People National Party (PNP), had been incessantly touting the abject lack of “Transparency, Accountability and Probity” on the part of politicians and public officials in the management of the people’s business, in particular the taxpayer’s money. It is equally ironic that under the neoliberal Danquah-Busia-Dombo-inspired John Agyekum-Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, the RTI Bill, had not apparently even come up for any serious discussion by our legislators. And here, of course, we are talking about the hitherto most democratic 8-year period of the country’s Fourth-Republican dispensation.
Of course, through the palpable instrumentality of Nana Addo DankwaAkufo-Addo, then Ghana’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, the Repeal of the Criminal Libel Law, a British colonial legislative legacy and relic, had been drafted and passed by an NPP-dominated Parliament. To be certain, it was about the period of the successful and politically most enlightened passage of the Repeal of the Criminal Libel Law that the RTI Bill ought to have been afforded a critical examination, fine-tuned, where deemed necessary, and passed into law. Well, to be fair to the “Adam-and-Eve” era of President Kufuor’s tenure, some RTI Bill presentations were, indeed,made before the august House. We shall come back to this moment of our history very shortly.
Needless to say, it is quite obvious why even the democratically elected regime of President Jerry John Rawlings had so conspicuously failed to enact the draft proposal of the RTI Bill into law before the end of the career coup-maker’s 8-year tenure. The man and his minions, representatives and cabinet appointees and assigns were avid and eloquent talkers of a good game, as it, but veritable actors of zilch. Nada! In plain English, the Rawlings-Arkaah and Rawlings/Atta-Mills tenures were full of hypocritical pontifications and scandalously vacuous implementation of politically enlightened policy initiatives. This is the era of the crudely Darwinian Cash-and-Carry healthcare policy initiative. Ironically dubbed the Era of Social Democracy or The Social Democrats, this period actually drew the sharpest relief between the filthy rich and the abjectly poor in Ghanaian society. Those who could not afford to pay their medical bills upfront were literally left to wither and die alongside our highways and alleyways. It was a classical case of the “Dog-Eat-Dog” mantra.
Under President Agyekum-Kufuor,the RTI Bill had been afforded at least three critical parliamentary reviews in the years 2003, 2005 and 2007. Mr. Kufuor’s Parliament may have jittered a bit over the opportune passage of an RTI Bill, partly because of well-founded suspicions regarding why the pontifically self-righteous key operatives of the Rawlings regime had flagrantly failed to do just that. As was only to be expected, President John Dramani Mahama, Ghana’s indisputable Contractual Payola-Guzzling Kingpin, was apparently too busy rigging up such patently anti-taxpayer racket as GYEEDA, SUBAH and SADA, for the exclusive benefit of his northern-descended clansmen and tribesmen, to give a hoot about the purported wholesomeness of administrative transparency.
Now, the most verbally forthright and trustworthy of our Fourth-Republican Ghanaian leaders, President Addo DankwaAkufo-Addo, who also happens to have been the lead-architect of the Repeal of the Criminal Libel Law and, in effect, the veritable Father of Free Speech in Ghana’s postcolonial political culture, says that by the close of his first term in office, the country’s 7th Parliament would have served a transparency-hungry Ghanaian electorate and citizenry with a Right-To-Information “Act” and “Law.” He must know what he is talking about because long before he became a cabinet appointee and substantive President of the Democratic Republic of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo had been the editor-publisher of the Justice Akufo-Addo-founded Ghanaian Statesman newspaper.
In sum, Nana Akufo-Addo fully appreciates the importance of free access to information, especially at the highest echelons of government, to a robust, progressive and healthily functioning media establishment in the country. This policy agenda ought to be heartily applauded. And even more importantly, it should be passed with all deliberate haste.
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Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D. and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana.