Nigerian Assembly Passes Harmonized FOI Legislation

25 May 2011

The Nigerian Senate and House May 24 passed a harmonized version of the Freedom of Information bill worked out bv a Joint Conference Committee.

Advocates are urging President Goodluck Jonathan, who has previously stated his support for a FOI law, to sign the bill, and key legislators are predicting it will become law.

However, Next reported:

But with barely days to the end of the administration, there are concerns over whether the president, already faced with a backlog of unattended bills, will append his signature soon enough to forestall a relapse of the legislation.

That state of affairs is also complicated by a bureaucratic transmission of completed bills from the national assembly to the president. Lawmakers yesterday refused to state when the document would be sent to Mr. Jonathan. The president still has the Climate Change Commission bill before him, sent since December 2010.

The Nigerian Observer, however, quotes a key senator Ayogu Eze as being optimistic. “The difference in this dispensation is that the President too has made a commitment that he would sign the Bill when it comes to him. So we don’t have any doubt that the President would not sign it,’’ he said.

Speaking after the approval, Senate President David Mark said that “this particular bill has generated a lot of controversies. But finally, thank God it is through and we hope that all the parties involved will be responsible, so that this bill will be beneficial to everybody,” according to The Tribune.

The compromise version, according to The Nation, includes the Senate versions ofclauses 1, 4, 8, 10, 11 and 14 while the other clauses come from the House version.

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