By Tony Nyong
UYOâ€”The media in the country and all Nigerians have been assured that the Freedom of Information Bill brought before the National Assembly for consideration has not been swept under the carpet as widely speculated but soon wouldÂ be passed into law in no distant time.
Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Eseme Eyibo, gave this assurance while speaking with newsmen yesterday in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.
Eyibo, who recalled that the FOI Bill was earlier passed into law during the immediate past tenure of the House, said the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, turned it down.
â€œThe FOI Bill, which is aimed at guaranteeing access to information, is not dead. It was passed in the last tenure of the House and was sent to the former president for assent. But he declined assent to it and it was returned to us.
â€œNow, only 15 percent of members that passed the bill came back to the House and based on this, it will be difficult to rush the process of passing the bill into law,â€ Eyibo stated.
The lawmaker, who is also the spokesperson of the House of Representatives, pointed out that the House was more interested in endorsing the FOI Bill, adding that the exercise was in the interest of Nigerians.
Explaining that the bill will come out stronger than ever, Eyibo called for strong Press Council that would ensure a high level of media responsibility.
Eyibo expressed worry over the non-remittance of over N3 trillion to the countryâ€™s coffers by some ministries since 2005, expressing the need for every appropriation of government to go through the scrutiny of the legislature.