Freedom of information, specifically access to information held by public authorities is a fundamental element of the right to freedom of expression and vital to the proper functioning of a democracy. It is an act that makes provision for the disclosure of information held by public authorities or by persons providing services for them (Robert, 2000). This means that the act enables one sees a wide range of public information because it gives the right to ask any public body for all the information they have on any subject. According to the Media Rights Agenda (2011)
This Act makes public records and information more freely available, provide for public access to public records and information, protect public records and information to the extent consistent with the public interest and the protection of personal privacy, protect serving public officers from adverse consequences for disclosing certain kinds of official information without authorization and establish procedures for the achievement of those purposes and; for related matters.
In a democratic world, the public is expected to have access to information (particularly through the media) not only on how they are governed but also on anything that is of interest to the individual or group. This is what the Act is all about. Until recently, the right to Freedom of Information in Nigeria has been overlooked.
The breakdown in the flow of information impairs the democratic process and slows economic and social development as citizens are unable to participate effectively in the process of government, make informed choices about who should govern them and to properly scrutinize officials to ensure corruption is avoided. Government officials themselves also fail to benefit from public input which could ease their decision making or improve their decision. Also, without accurate information on matters of public interest, citizens must rely on rumors and unconfirmed reports with the obvious danger this presents for accurate and objective reporting by the media.
Excerpt from Ayodele Afolayan
We, the undersigned, call on the government of Oyo-state to domesticate the Freedom of Information Act in Oyo state to contribute to the transparency and accountability stance of the government.
Freedom of Information Act is an act to make public records and information more freely available, provide for public access to public records and information, protect public records and information to the extent consistent with the public interest and the protection of personal privacy, protect serving public officers from adverse consequences of disclosing certain kinds of official information without authorization and establish procedures for the achievement of those purposes and; for related matters.
The act which was signed into law in May 2011 by Former President Goodluck Jonathan but the government of Oyo-state had failed to domesticate the act since then.
Domestication of FOI act in Oyo-state will:
• Require all institutions to proactively disclose basic information about their structure and processes and mandates them to build the capacity of their staff to effectively implement and comply with the provisions of the Act.
• Make adequate provision for the information needs of illiterate and disabled applicants.
• Create reporting obligations on compliance with the law for all institutions affected by it. These reports are to be provided annually to the Attorney General’s office, which will in turn make them available to both the House of Assembly and the public.
• Requires the Attorney-General to oversee the effective implementation of the Act and report on execution of this duty to Parliament annually.
Oyo state government has as its mission to serve the people of the great pace setter state with humility and render transparent and accountable stewardship anchored on integrity and good governance. We shall use our God given resources to improve the quality of life of our present and future generations.
Domestication of Freedom of Information act will be a step in the right direction and it will show how sincere this government’s transparent and accountability stewardship anchored on integrity and good governance.
The Domestication of Freedom of Information Act in Oyo-state petition to Oyo state Government was written by The 3rd Alternative and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.