The Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly has declared support for the Freedom of Information and Whistleblowers bills, saying they would provide access to official information and strengthen communication ties between the government and the governed.
The Speaker, Suraju Adekunbi, said this on Friday while playing host to the United Action for Change, UAC, a non-governmental organization led by Muiz Banire. Mr. Banire presented the Freedom of Information, FOI, Bill and the Whistleblowers bills to the speaker at the Assembly Complex, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta.
The FOI is already a law by the Federal Government but has not been domesticated by many states including Ogun.
Mr. Adekunbi commended the organization for the presentation, explaining that it was a reminder of what was expected of political office holders, especially the legislators in ensuring transparency and accountability in governance in the state and the nation at large.
The Speaker, who described the initiative of UAC as people-oriented, promised that the Assembly would support the proposed bills and give them due attention.
Earlier in his presentation, Mr. Banire said that the organization was conceived to engage and sensitize Nigerians on the philosophical and moral significance of the change mantra of the All Progressives Congress led – government, stressing that its values revolve round national rebirth, value re-orientation and mobilization, transparency and accountability in governance as well as citizens’ engagement and consciousness.
He added that the FOI Act passed into law by the National Assembly existed only at the federal level, but was yet to be domesticated or enacted by the states, hence the need to propose a new version that also reviewed the shortcomings of the federal law.
According to Mr. Banire, the sections newly added in the proposed FOI Bill would aid the proper implementation of the law by creating the Office of the Complaint Commissioner, an Ombudsman and the Office of Complaint Tribunal to resolve disputes relating to rejected request for information.
“The proposed Bill unlike the federal legislation which gives immediate access to court as soon as the requests are turned down will provide for administrative channels through the Complaint Commissioner and Appeal Commissioner to resolve disputes on request for information as much as possible with the litigation option being the last resort,” he stated.