The Media stands to gain immeasurably from the Right To Information (RTI) Law, President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Roland Affail Monney said on Tuesday.
He explained that this was simply because access to information was fundamental to the media’s ability to report accurately, analyse professionally and critise constructively.
Mr. Monney said this at the Media Forum on the RTI organised by the GJA in collaboration with the Media Foundation for West Africa and the Chevening Alumni.
“The point can hardly be articulated that the RTI Law is not media specific. It is a people’s law designed to empower the ordinary Ghanaian to seek information, which is held in trust by Government officials,” Mr Monney noted.
“It is also needless to emphasise or superfluous to prophesy that the RTI Law will deepen the culture of transparency in governance, promote the drive for accountability and enhance the fight against corruption.”
He said that GJA agreed with the experts that RTI was a measure of civility in any modern society; adding that “thanks to the RTI Law, Ghana is firmly on the path of democratic modernity”.
Mr. Monney, who said the enactment of the RTI Law was one thing and its implementation another, noted that the reality was that effective implementation of the law would not be a happenstance.
He said it would take the dint of will and the provision of structures to arrive at the desired destination of effective RTI regime.
He mentioned that another essential prerequisite was meaningful and tenacious education.
“It is said that any law without education is a hallucination. So, the RTI Law not to be consigned to the realm of the media must scale-up the core function of educating the people on the law.”
Citing from the Bible, Mr. Monney said “If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a ditch”.
He said: “It is also said that to be informed by the uninformed is to be deformed”.
He said contextually, the media must cure themselves of any professional blindness to avoid misleading themselves or deforming the public.
He said this basic truth impose an onerous responsibility on the media community to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the RTI Law in order to be equipped to do justice to their professional mettle relative to education on the law.
Mr. Monney said massive educational drive on the RTI Law must move with the managing of the expectations of the law.
“We need to square the implementation of the law to the logic reality. And the reality is that the RTI implementation will face initial obstacles or teething problems owing to challenges over record keeping and others,” he said.
“But these challenges should not stand in the way of release of harmless information in a rapid fire fashion to help achieve the overall objective of enacting the RTI Law and building a knowledgeable society.”
The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said the foundation of every democratic society was the people having the right to know; otherwise they would not be able to hold the people they elected or appointed accountable.
He said Article 21(1) F of the 1992 Constitution gives Ghanaians the right to information; adding that the RTI Act was a procedural Act, which exerts the benefits of Article 21(1) f.
Chevening Alumni President, Abdul Razzak Yakubu said the role of the media was highly significant in any democratic dispensation.
He said there was the need to protect the media and that the media would be able to provide the citizenry with the information that they need.
He urged the media to uphold their mandate, especially their watch-dog role of holding government accountable to the people.