FOIA Prospects in Nigeria Called Grim

20 August 2010

    “The prospects for a Freedom of Information Act under the present government in Nigeria look grim, unless we can take decisive action to rescue the situation,” Media Rights Agenda Executive Director Edetaen Ojo told a conference in Lagos, according to a newspaper report.

      The distraction of the coming elections is a problem, he said, while still stressing: “If there is a desire on the part of the members to pass the Bill into Law, it can become Law very quickly.”

        Ojo spoke at a conference on FOI and how to pass the bill after years of effort, according to a report by Abimbola Akosile in This Day Aug. 18. The article noted:

How can the Bill be passed in the life of the present administration, so that it can form part of the framework for an ‘ideal’ democratic setting in 2011, year of the general elections? So many questions, few answers; even among the seasoned egg-heads at the roundtable.

The conferees “called on all members of the House of Representatives to allow the final debate on the Bill to proceed immediately so that the Bill can be passed during this year, ” according to article. Also, they said the Senate should “jettison the obnoxious provisions injected into the Bill by its Committee on Information and Media and proceed to pass a credible Freedom of Information Bill.”

“President Goodluck Jonathan should champion the Freedom of Information campaign as part of his reform agenda and consistent with his commitment to openness, transparency and good governance. He should encourage the National Assembly to pass the Freedom of Information Bill into Law during his tenure and commit himself to giving presidential assent to it as soon as it is passed by the National Assembly,” the conference attendees said.

The media was called on to promote the better awareness and understanding of the bill among various stakeholders.

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