Anti-Corruptions Champion tells his story
Meet Christopher M. Chrismek from the Yilo Krobo District. He is one of 50 Anti-Corruption Champions elected by their community to spearhead the fight against corruption right at the doorsteps of their communities.
Funded by USAID, Christopher and a broad network of other community members and local civil society representatives have been receiving support and training from the Ghana Integrity Initiative Consortium – a consortium of three leading Ghanaian CSOs the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), SEND Ghana and the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC).
Within the framework of the Accountable and Democratic Institutions Systems Strengthening Project (ADISS) project, the Consortium members recently trained 141 citizens from all the ten regions of Ghana on ways in which to effectively engage with their Members of Parliament (MPs) to lobby for reforms.
On Sunday 4 April at 7:00 AM, Christopher found himself in the home of MP Hon. Magnus Kofi Amoatey to deliver a petition urging him to use his position as a Member of Parliament to advocacy for the passage of Right to Information Bill before Parliament. The Bill has been before Parliament since February 2010. Much as Parliament have stated considering the various proposed amendments, the fear is that the bill may not be passed before the term of office this current Parliament expire.
Freedom of information is the cornerstone of an accountable democratic society. It allows citizens, civil society and media to effectively exercise their right to hold their elected officials to account. The fight to promote free access to information has being championed by a handful of Accra-based CSOs. Thanks to efforts by the GII consortium, the fight is now also led by community leaders such as Christopher.
Sharing his experience with GII during a recent workshop, Christopher spoke of the excitement in preparing a petition and personally delivering it to the local MP. He said the experience has been extremely rewarding. This was the first time Christopher had submitted a formal petition to an MP. The MP fully endorsed the initiative to build up pressure for the adoption of the RTI Bill. In fact, he emphasized the need to expand the scope of the bill to apply to all public office holders as well as traditional rules who until now remained outside the proposed bill.
MPs often find themselves in the crossfire of media and other pressure groups, but when it comes to engagement of their own constituency, it is crucial that the parties can openly honestly and with no accusation discuss developmental issues within the community. This is how citizens can win the support of their MPs and Christopher's story illustrates just that. He is staying in contact with his MP and drawing on the community to bring urgent issues to the attention of those they have elected to be their voice in policy making.