By OLASUNKANMI AKONI
The Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku; ex-governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande and Chief Ajibola Ogunsola, President, Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) have again charged the National Assembly to pass the Freedom of Information Bill  (FoI) without delay, saying the bill is an albatross to national development and can no longer be tolerated under democratic dispensation.

•From left; Mr. Gbenga Adefaye, President, Nigerian Guild of Editors; Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Governor of Lagos State Alhaji Lateef Jakande, ex-Governor of Lagos State at the NGE's 2011 Biennial Convention at Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos.

See more Photos of the 2011 BIENNIAL CONVENTION NIGERIAN GUILD OF EDITOR

The trio, who spoke at the opening ceremony of a two-day 2011 Biennial Convention of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), at the Airport Hotel, Lagos, argued that the bill is not only an instrument needed for the enhancement of journalists  in the country but a veritable tool required to achieve the nation’s much-desired good governance and development. The NGE president, Mr Gbenga Adefaye, was returned unopposed for another term of two years at the convention.

Maku stressed that there was need for a serious advocacy for the passage of the bill since was equally deliberated upon in the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS),adding that the country cannot be exempted in the collective resolve to achieve a free society.

The minister lamented that non-passage of the bill by the National Assembly hampered the development of democracy in the country and called on well-meaning Nigerians to lend their support in the renewed efforts to pressurise the lawmakers to pass the bill.

Jakande, who is also the pioneer president of NGE and ex-Minister of Works and Housing, noted that there cannot be credible election , good governance without a free press, and argued that the bill is a prerequisite to holding the leaders accountable to the citizenry.

The Publisher of Vanguard Newspapers, Mr Sam Amuka, who congratulated media executives on keeping the country together argued that the media had an important role to play in the sustainance of the country..

He said: “We may be vilified in the course of our duties, we all have to make sure that public office is not converted to self service.”

Ogunsola, in his goodwill remarks, urged the federal and state government office-seekers to make it a priority by including in their campaign manifestoes to promote the promulgation of bill even as he called on NGE to continue in its agitation for the passage of the bill.

Adefaye, the returned NGE   president, who is also the  General Manager/Editor-In –Chief of Vanguard Newspapers, in his welcome address at the occasion,  had  reeled out the many achievements of the Guild in the last two years since he assumed office, adding that the Guild had very engaging time defending the independence of the media.

On the bill, Adefaye lamented that despite a series of interactions with the leadership of NASS, “it appears to me that the NASS as presently constituted is unfortunately indisposed to full disclosure as part of democracy.

While declaring the convention open, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State urged the media to proffer solutions to the various problems confronting the country rather than engaging in outright condemnation of government policies.

Fashola also appealed to the media to play down negative stories that portray the country and people in bad light, adding that graphic images of gory stories should be discouraged as it diminishes the people.

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