By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has declared the federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari as the most transparent and open in the history of Nigeria, saying “the President has been open to the extent of allowing Nigerians to make input in almost all his major policy decisions.”
Speaking Saturday at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Media Dialogue in Abuja, the Minister said unlike President Buhari’s two predecessors, Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, information now pass more freely and speedily from the government to the people.
Mohammed, who was represented by Bayo Onanuga, the Managing-Director of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said: “the Ministry of Information under this government has been hyperactive; thereby, making the administration of President Buhari the most open and transparent in the history of Nigeria.
“Take for instance, a few days ago, the full minute of the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting was sent to all media houses to use as content for public consumption. This shows that the federal government is trying to provide as much information as possible to the public.
“Also, Nigeria’s recent upward climb on the Ease of Doing Business Index (EDBI) is another indicator of this government’s strong resolve and commitment to transparency initiatives.
The Minister further encouraged the media to take advantage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act to request for more government information that will serve the interest of the public; stressing that Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) of government who fail to provide information requested in compliance with the FOI Act can be sued.
Mohammed however cautioned that while the federal government demonstrates its commitment to promoting openness in the affairs of governance, it will not carry on its business on “the pages of newspapers.”
He said that though Press Freedom is guaranteed under Nigerian laws, the media should exercise this freedom with a sense of responsibility.
“The media must continue to call government and members of the political class to order when they go wrong. However, the media should remain truthful, factual and objective. It should also desist from spreading information from unverified and unverifiable sources.
“As professionals, try to do your work in compliance with the media laws and codes of ethics which guide the media profession,” the Minister advise.