NIGERIA: FOI Proposal Now the Oldest Unpassed Bill

17 July 2008

The freedom of information bill brought before the Nigerian National Assembly in 1999 has now become the oldest unpassed legislation still pending before that body, according to the influential newspaper This Day. A July 14, 2008 article by Jude Igbanoi describes the FOI bill as the subject of "unprecedented debate, wrangling and bickering between the nation’s law makers and various stakeholders."

The article says that former president Olusegun Obasanjo "made a personal confession on his last day in office that he regretted not signing the bill into law" in 2007, yet that withholding of presidential assent meant that the whole process had to start over. The author argues that the assembly’s reluctance to enact the bill stems largely from lawmakers’ perceptions that the bill would give too much power to the media; while advocates of the bill maintain that the bill would actually empower citizens more than the media and help stem Nigeria’s endemic corruption.

See Jude Igbanoi, "FoI: The Bill With Nine Lives," This Day, 14 July 2008.

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