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Opinions of Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Columnist: Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai

Let’s follow best practices and leadership on Right to Information Law

The nation is busy working out plans through parliament to pass the Right to Information Bill into law. This is a move whose result is likely to lift high the nation’s image.

Honorable Alban Kingsford Bagbin, leader of parliament who believes in the RTI bill is leading the current parliament to consider amendments on the bill now before parliament which has been worked out with the help of the Coalition for the Right to Information.

This bill is important to the people of Ghana who are hopeful that its passage will open up the nation for accountability and good governance to prevail. When the bill becomes law it would also give room for the government in tandem of the people to enforce the law as is happening in countries like Nigeria. One thing that the government would be expected to do is to sponsor the sensitization of the people to understand fully the contents of the RTI law.

The bill when passed into law can also be translated into Ghanaian languages for the benefit of the majority of the people. For us to succeed in implementing the RTI law we ought to follow the best practices in some nations such as Nigeria.

According to news on-line received with the help of our roving consultant UGONNA IKWEGUE Nigeria has intensified moves to implement the Freedom of Information Law which was passed recently in that country. To this end, the Freedom of Information Unit of Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Justice (FMOJ) in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) has began implementing the Freedom of Information Act by public institutions in the country.

The Partnership agreement between the two organizations includes translation of the law into 28 languages and ways in which all the ministries and departments would implement the FOI law throughout Nigeria including how to disclose information.

3,000 personnel of the Agency have been deployed in continuous public sensitization about the act using the various platforms.

Top Nigerians feel that The FOI act is timely as the right to know is a fundamental right of every citizen and the Act could be used to fight the ills of the society and promote transparency and accountability.

What is interesting about Nigeria is that besides moves to promote accountability and good governance through the FOI law the presidency under Mohammadu Buhari is working hard to promote anti-corruption at the top level of governance through examples by the president himself.

The president has declared his assets and expects his ministers and governors to follow suit. He has caused the arrest of his brother in law who attempted to use him to dupe a businessman.

President Buhari recently turned away a gift of truck load of sheep from a rich man meant for the Muslim festival of Eid Al Adha which coincides with the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. On top of this entire president buhari has told the newly nominated ministers of Nigeria that his government would not tolerate ostentatious and flamboyant lifestyles from any one of them.

The president served notice to the new ministers that some of them would not be assigned ministries while at the same time they would not be assigned large protocol officials at high cost to the nation.

President Buhari made it clear to the new ministers that in view of the dwindling fortunes of the nation the ministers in a single cabinet in an executive council would have to work together as a unit to safeguard the interest of Nigeria

The examples set by Nigeria under President Buhari is good and worthy of emulation by all nations of Africa. President has proved that he as a military man has learnt to be a disciplined leader and expects all those working with him to follow his footsteps.

The efforts to get the FOI law to work in Nigeria and the RTI to work in Ghana is good. The officials assigned to implement it must do their bit to complement what is being done by the leaders of the nations of Africa including Ghana and Nigeria.

Executive Director
EANFOWORLD FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
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abdulai.alhasan@gmail.com /eanfoworld@yahoo.com