BY ROTIMI AJAYI
ABUJA— Following persistent vow to rev up his administration’s war against corruption, President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered ministries, departments, and agencies to subject themselves to the Freedom of Information Act, FoIA.
In line with the directive, the Presidency has set up a steering committee that would see to the smooth operation of the Act. A meeting of the committee has, therefore, been scheduled for tomorrow in Abuja with Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim.
According to a letter dated September 29, the meeting would be a prelude to a stakeholders’ summit to be convened by the President for the implementation of the Act.
The letter signed by the SGF was sequel to a memo sent to the various ministries, departments and agencies on the directive of the President.
The letter read, in part, “pursuant to the desire of the government to give full effect to the FoIA, His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has directed that the relevant government ministries, departments and agencies should work closely with civil society organisations, other key stakeholders in the society and the media, to develop suitable strategies, activities and roadmap to enable the nation enjoy the intended benefits of this landmark legislations.
“The administration wants a robust implementation framework that aggregates the views of key stakeholders in a central point to evaluate and advise on the nature of further initiatives and actions.” A source said the President had resolved to avail the administration the opportunity of the FoI Act to beef-up the national campaign against corruption and nepotism in public services.
“There is wide interest in the need for modalities to jump-start the implementation process, and for action to minimise the risk of conflicting responses by the governance institutions and MDAs to people that seek information as provided in the FoIA.
“The government is also mindful of the various requests being made to it for further public consultations to secure the buy-in of stakeholders.”
It was learnt that no government institution would be insulated from the operations of the Act following the realisation that the available anti-graft agencies are being hampered in their operations by bureaucracy
“Mr President is desirous of ensuring that his transformational agenda succeeds and has decided to beef-up the anti-corruption war. He believes the FoIA has a lot of potentials that will help Nigeria significantly in tackling the problem of corruption.
“He wants quick take-off of the Freedom of Information Act as part of the restructuring of the Nigeria polity.”
It was learnt that the Steering Committee members include officials from the Office of Attorney General, the Media to be represented by the Guild of Editors, the Security agencies, the Anti-graft Agencies and members of the Civil Society.