Lagos – The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) on Wednesday advised President Goodluck Jonathan not to delay in signing the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill into Law.
The Senate on Tuesday passed the harmonized version of the Freedom of Information Bill 2011.
Both chambers of the National Assembly had passed the Bill but with some amendments following which a 12-member committee was constituted to harmonize both versions.
The Bill seeks to provide right of access to public information or records kept by government, public institutions and/or private bodies carrying out public functions for citizens and non-citizens of the country.
It will also increase the availability of public records and information to citizens to participate more effectively in the making and administration of laws and policies and to promote accountability of public officers.
Lagos State Chairman of the NUJ, Mr Wahab Oba said “an early signing of the Bill into Law would strengthen the President’s commitment to fight corruption.
“The FOI Bill should be a challenge to the Federal Government as it is a weapon that would ensure transparency in public offices.
“The bill is a clear warning to public office holders that it will no longer be business as usual because questions on how the people’s funds are spent must be answered by compulsions of law,’’ Oba said.
He pointed out that the Bill came at a time when Nigerians were more in tune with international best practices in curbing corruption.
He commended the Senate for dedicating the Bill to Nigerian journalists.
On the expectations of the union in the new dispensation, the NUJ Chairman said that the greatest challenge facing the nation was poverty.
“Governments must create employment and come up with policies that will guarantee better life for Nigerians,” he said.
Oba also challenged the president and incoming governors on security, saying that “only a secure nation can think of progress’’.
Also, the Coalition of Oodua Self Determination Groups (COOSEG), urged the Senate to send the Bill to the President without delay.
COOSEG Director of Strategy, Mr Razaq Oladosu, also said that “the bill is a signal that the nation is gradually changing for the better’’.
“Our appeal is for the president to ensure a quick passage’’ he said.
Similarly, the Nigeria Peoples Congress has commended the Senate on the passage of the Bill.
National Chairman of the Party, Chief Ngozi Emioma, said that “although the bill came years late, it will go a long way in assisting in the fight against corruption.’’