Elites Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD), a Kwara-based Civil Society Organization known for its #FollowKwaraMoney activities, has raised hope on the domestication of Freedom of Information (FOI) Act in Kwara state. This development follows the latest statement by Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, the Executive Governor of Kwara State, where he promised that year 2020 will be positively decisive for Kwarans.
In a statement released by the Chief Press Secretary to the Executive Governor of Kwara State, Mallam Rafiu Ajakaye, the Governor was reported to have called for more support from the citizens and promised to work with the progressive leadership of the Kwara State House of Assembly (KWHA) to fast-track the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill to deepen transparency and accountability.
It will be recalled that during the last meeting of ENetSuD with the Speaker of KWHA, Rt. Hon. Salihu Yakabu Danladi on 5th November, 2019, the assurance of working on the amendment of FOI Bill was also made by him as he promised that the bill would be attended to after passage of the proposed 2020 budget that the Assembly was awaiting from the executive https://enetsud.org/2019/11/05/foi-bill-to-be-amended-soon-we-stand-by-you-kwha-assures-enetsud/.
As the sponsor and the major promoter of the bill in Kwara state, ENetSuD has consistently maintained that corruption cannot be killed in Kwara state and there cannot be transparency and accountability in the governance of Kwara state without an FOI bill that will 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 https://enetsud.org/2019/12/09/we-cant-kill-corruption-without-access-to-information-enetsud-tells-abdulrahman-danladi/.
ENetSuD had earlier shown disappointment over the Governor’s silence on the Bill since his letter requesting for its amendment in July 2019. ENetSuD noted that the Governor has the legal and moral obligation to persuade the Assembly to work on the amendment he requested for so as to fast-track the passage of the Bill. Having read the Governor’s statement today (31st December, 2019), ENetSuD is pleased to note that the Governor has promised to fulfill these obligations in the coming year 2020, an observation that we must not fail to commend in the public interest.
Based on the promise earlier made by the Speaker of KWHA and the one made today by the Governor, we are of the conviction that FOI Bill will top the legislative agenda of KWHA in January 2020 or immediately after the 2020 budget is passed. We also believe that assent to the Bill by the Governor will follow immediately KWHA passes it. Freedom of Information on how public funds are spent, if given to Kwarans, will be a lasting legacy of Abdulrahman-led administration of Kwara State Government.
Alagbonsi Abdullateef, Ph.D.