The Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) and the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) have urged the government to put all necessary measures in place to see to the smooth implementation of the Right to Information law in 2020.
“We further wish to state that the implementation of the law should not be stalled by lack of budgetary allocation,” the two bodies said.
In a communique issued at the end of its annual Joint Meeting at the Osu Ebenezer Presby Church Hall, the two bodies also cautioned Ghanaians not to abuse the right to information law, stressing that: “We believe that it should be used responsibly and with the needed respect with the aim of strengthening our democracy”.
It was signed on behalf of the CCG by Rev. Dr Cyril G. K. Fayose, General Secretary and Pastor Emmanuel Okai, Executive Committee member of CCG, while Rev. Fr Lazarus Anondee, General Secretary of the GCBC, and Most Rev. Philip Naameh, President of the GCBC.
They commended Government, Parliament, Civil Society Organisations, the Media, the Right to Information Coalition, and all stakeholders who worked hard to see to the passing of the Right to Information Law on March 26, 2019 and expressed the hope that the law would further deepen Ghana’s democratic process by creating a platform for transparency and accountability in governance.
The two religious bodies said they could not overlook the current debate over attempts to create new constituencies.
“Although the Electoral Commission has denied the reports, we suggest that the current local governance systems should be strengthened while officials are supported to perform their duties,” it said.
On the compilation of a new voters’ register, they suggested to the Electoral Commission (EC) to hasten slowly.
According to them, the National Identification Authority (NIA) was currently registering Ghanaians for the Ghana Card and they thought that the NIA should be supported to fast-track the process.
“That way, the Ghana Card may be considered as an ID card for the elections,” they advised.
“The EC must be reminded that the NIA’s work is to resolve the problem of multiple agencies issuing different cards for different purposes.
The communique said decentralisation or effective Local Government System was the way to bring governance and its benefits to the people and enhance the participation of citizens in the governance process.
It, therefore, commended the President and his government for a successful creation of six new regions and the process to reform the local governance system to enhance the devolution of power and resources to the regions, the districts and the communities among which is the election of metropolitan/ municipal/district chief executives, (MMDCEs).
“We are, however, of the view that what is needed at the moment is extensive civic education on a large scale to let the citizens know their rights and obligations under the Local Governance Act, 2016, Act 936. To this effect, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) should be properly resourced to carry out this job,” it said.
“With regard to the election of MMDCEs, we encourage Ghanaians to see it as a means of getting governance at their doorsteps. We, therefore, ask everyone to participate fully in the process and vote on the competence of individuals standing for election and not on political lines,” it stated.
The religious bodies expressed concern about the current security challenges confronting Ghanaians such as kidnapping and robbery.
“We urge the security heads, especially the Criminal Investigation Department, to up their game as many Ghanaians are losing confidence in the system,” the communique said.