10 December 2012

Nigeria: Acting Governor of Enugu Joins Campaign for Access to Information

Acting Governor Sunday Onyebuchi of Enugu State has joined the campaign for freedom information, saying it is necessary to ensure transparency and accountability in governance.

Speaking at the South East zonal sensitisation workshop on the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, in Owerri on Monday, Onyebuchi said information was required for every constructive input in governance.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary of the state ministry of justice, Mrs Chiemelie Onaga, the acting governor said the Act was aimed at ensuring that the press and public had unhindered access to information.

"The general public and the press are encouraged to take advantage of the provisions of this law and check the growing propensity in our public service for gratification.

"It is hoped that participants will make useful contributions that will ensure that this law takes root in Nigeria," he said.

Also speaking, Gov. Rochas Okorocha of Imo said the citizenry should be given access to information to appreciate or criticise the government.

Okorocha, who was represented by his deputy, Mr Jude Agbaso, said freedom of information was the culture in Imo.

"The Secrecy Act never operated in this administration. Corruption occurs only in secrecy and when the citizens do not have access to information, corruption thrives."

The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Reform of Government Institutions, Rep. Matthew Omegara, said the workshop was to create awareness and understanding of the FOI Act.

He added that it would also facilitate increased utilisation of the Act by members of the public and ensure compliance by public institutions.

"We are hoping to convene similar sensitisation workshops in all the six geo-political zones.

"Freedom of information is a unique tool that can and should be used to unlock the benefits of other rights, be they socio-economic, civil and political rights for the benefit of the populace," he said.

The workshop, with the theme "Transparency and accountability - the way forward" was organised by the house committee in partnership with the UNDP.

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