NOA solicits partnership with NUJ for promotion of Freedom of Information Act Awareness in Abia State


The National Orientation Agency has solicited for the co-operation of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in creating awareness for the promotion of Freedom of Information Act,2011.

The Abia State Director of National Orientation Agency, Dr Ngozi Okechukwu Ph.d in company of the Agency’s Management Team, made the appeal, during the Advocacy visit to Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Abia State Council and charged Journalists to avoid publishing reports that would aggravate the security situation in the country.

In her address titled” Towards effective sensitization and implementation of the provisions of Freedom of Information Act( FOIA) 2011, NOA Director called on Abia State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists to help in creating the much needed awareness to sensitize the Members on effective utilization of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) intended to end secrecy in governance in the country.

Lady Okechukwu explained that NOA has embarked on a nationwide sensitization campaign on the conduct of promoting transparency, accountability and stewardship in governance through the understanding and application of FOIA.

According to her, the Advocacy visit to Abia NUJ was to create awareness of FOI Act and Open Government Partnership with the goal of developing a dialogue mechanism on accountability and good governance between citizens and government to facilitate a culture of openness.

In her own words.“sincere implementation and open government partnerships, citizens’ right to know is the pivot around which genuine democratic practice revolves.”She decried the low awareness and gross under utilization of the Act by Nigerians, attributing same to non-compliance by most government Institutions, some inherent deficiencies in the Act; lack of political will on the part of leaders and existence of subsisting laws that conflict with FOIA.

She , however ,restated that President Buhari described freedom of the Press as an” irreducible minimum in a democracy that will flourish” added , that the freedom must be used responsibly.

“Everything that is permitted must have rules of correctness, particularly in a polity that is challenged as ours now. The media must be sensitive to what we are going through as a country; anything that will exacerbate the situation and further inflame passions and motions should be avoided,” she said.

FOIA, she noted, “is a critical ingredient that distinguishes democracy from dictatorship and defines the authenticity and vibrancy of democracy” because it gives citizens the right and free access to information that is held by the state enabled by legislation.

Increasing citizens’ access to information, Lady Okechukwu stressed, would lead to transparency, accountability and good governance as the FOIA “contains far-reaching provision capable of transforming the culture of secrecy in governance that has existed in Nigeria’s public institutions.

”She added that FOI Act effectively gives every Nigerian the “right to know” what goes on in government and how elected Officers were spending public funds.

She said: “In summary, in a democratic setup, publicly funded public and private institutions are by law, stewards who must render account of their stewardship to their Principals (the citizens) as demanded by law,” hence the need for increased public awareness and sensitization of FOI Act in both urban and rural communities.

Welcoming the NOA delegation, the Chairman of NUJ, Abia State Council, Comrade Victor Ndukwe , called for a review of the FOI Act, to make it workable for Journalists, pointing out that the Act, in its present form, was time consuming and unsuitable for immediate news gathering.

The State Chairman noted that Journalists are ready to partner with the Agency to promote a peaceful secured Nigeria. He revealed that the problem we are having today are bottled anger that is gradually exploding and taking different dimension.”The little things we neglected over the years are exploding and is telling now on us, today if you have issue with someone or your relations is better you settle it, in our region now you can not go to the police to report any crime because the police themselves are now endangered”

He regretted that due to the level of insecurity and curfew placed by the state government , night life is almost gone in Abia reteirating that this has affected the people’s means of livelihood.

Ndukwe urged NOA to increase the tempo of its FOIA sensitization and awareness creation campaigns in the state and expressed the Council’s readiness to partner the Agency in realizing the objective of educating Nigerians about the efficacy of the Act.