By: Ibrahim Abdulwasiu (ibwas)
What is Freedom of Information?
Freedom of information also known as the right to information refers to the right, which members of the public in any society have, to access information held by
government officials and institutions at different levels.
However, as of August 2019, a civil society organization named Elite Network For Sustainable Development sent a bill to ensure freedom of information in the State of Harmony, the bill which has of several times passed the reading of state house of assembly and at the point of signing into law, the Governor of the state Mall. Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq requested the amendment of some sections and sub-sections of the bill within seven days. The amendment which update remains on deck without doing the necessary need by the statehouse.
Sequel to this, series of retreat have been in existence by the civil society in concern to ensure the state government takes the next step in bringing the bill into law and in a statement by the Special Assistance to the Governor Mr. Solace on Royal Fm disclosed that the organization is wasting her time on the freedom of information bill and lots of comment have been made by different people on different media.
What Kwara has never understood is the importance and implications of the FOI bill on government activities.
As it name implies, Freedom of Information is already a law in action by Nigeria government which enables different people or organization or institution to investigate government activities ranging from project proposal to project implementation in a different aspect. This bill was first sent to the National Assembly in the year 1999 but with valid votes by the then members of the Assembly, the bill later got its stand when passed by both national assembly in the year 2011 and was signed into law by President Goodluck led government. To date, this bill has been helping in tracking government activities and resources.
Signing this kind of bill into law in Kwara State will bring effective transparency of government at all levels in the state.
Taking into consideration, the Palliatives made available by the government can be tracked by different people if the bill is signed into law and the government testifies and confirms due access to information.
Also, the state government has been claiming zero salaries since day one in office. If this is true or not, fact check cannot be done without freedom of information.
In conclusion, this bill will be a victory for democracy. With the bill becoming a law, Kwara will finally have important tools to uncover facts corruption and hold officials and institutions accountable. The bill will profoundly change how government works in the state and we can use the impact of Information and knowledge to investigate the government of the state.