The Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho, has said that if Members of the House, particularly, the Minority, do not want to pass the Right to Information Bill into Law, they can kick against it.
The Speaker said this on the floor of Parliament, when the Right to Information Bill, was programmed on the Order Paper, to be considered by the Lawmakers, on Wednesday.
Responding to concerns raised by the Minority leader, the Speaker stated that there were a lot of people, such as civil society groups and representatives of the A.U, Commissioner, who came to see leadership of the House, on the passage of the Bill in his conference room, adding that leadership of both sides of the House were also present.
‘Hon. Members, let’s look at it. If Members do not want to pass the Bill, that one is not the Speaker’s business. I want to pass the Bill during my tenure, and if you, the Members do not want to pass it, you can kick against it. That’s not my business’, the Speaker lamented.
In a sharp rebuttal, the Minority leader said that the point that he was making was that, pressures from all quarters could be brought to bear on Parliament, but Parliament ‘does not act because of pressures that are mounting, adding that, that’s not their business.’
‘Personally, I’m committed that we consider the Bill, except that the Presidential Transition Act provides us with a cutoff date of November 7, and thereafter, any projections from government, as regards what business we may be transacting. Unfortunately, we have a leader of government business, and it is for him to state to us, based on the handing-over notes that, this is what is outstanding and which work must be transacted’, the Minority leader enunciated.
The Speaker also said that he did not want to go into constitutionality, stating that Article 112 clause 1 of the 1992 Constitution was very clear on this matter. He added that one has to read the Presidential Transition Act, with Article 112 (1), to get the net effect.
‘I don’t want us to go into legalities. We have a Bill before us. It is an outstanding business. The Business Committee has programmed it, and it is before the House, and it is on the Order Paper and I have called that we should take that item. I am doing my work as Speaker of Parliament’, the Speaker indicated.
The Minority Leader further argued that without prejudice to Article 112 and without prejudice to the Executive authority of the President, ‘we have given ourselves a Presidential Transition Act and we must act in accordance with it.’
The Speaker made his point clear that, ‘the Presidential Transition Act is the Presidential Transition Act, adding that it is not Parliamentary Transition Act.’
‘Oh! Is that the way you want to go? If that is the way, the Speaker wants to go, with respect, I will tell you that, then we won’t want to be part of any business in the House’, the Minority leader rebutted.
He also responded to punctuated voices from the Majority side saying ‘shame’, stating that if that was the attitude, then ‘we won’t have it (Bill) in two weeks’.
The Right to Information Bill seeks to give right and access to official information, held by public institutions and private entities, which perform public functions with public funds. The Bill, which has been before Parliament for some years, has been plagued by a number of amendments and deferments. It is expected to be passed, before the life of the 6th Parliament, expires, on the 6th of January, 2016.