The Minister of Information Mr. Labaran Maku has called on Commissioners for Information across the Federation to champion the implementation of Freedom of Information in their respective states. He made the call in Abuja while declaring open the 43rd National Council on Information Meeting.
Mr. Maku observed that some State Houses of Assembly have begun deliberations to enact their own versions of the Freedom of Information Law, but warned that such Edicts would be null and void to the extent of their inconsistencies to the Freedom of Information Act passed by the National Assembly and assented to by President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said as Information Managers, they should manage information in such a way that would improve transparency and accountability in governance as well as provide opportunity for people to use public information organs to contribute to the governance process.
He remarked that democracy differs from military dictatorship through openness and free flow of information to the people so that they would be enlightened citizenry who could engage their leaders constructive as well as express their views in order to promote good governance.
Mr. Maku said in furtherance of the Transformation Agenda of this administration, which is anchored on good governance, the Federal Ministry of Information organized a Ministerial Platform for Cabinet Ministers to interact with Nigerians across the world on a multi-media platform to explain the activities and programmes of ministries, departments and agencies.
He added that the Ministry equally embarked on a National Good Governance Tour of projects across the country to verify the claims made by Ministers on the Ministerial Platform and held citizens forum in the states visited, which provided avenue for robust engagement between citizens and their leaders on governance and the challenges in project implementation.
He also observed that the recent flooding that devastated many states of the Federation was a wake-up call for Information Managers to mount sustained sensitization campaigns on environmental issues, urban planning and settlement patterns in flood-prone areas to protect life and property of citizens.
“It also behooves us to popularize weather advisory reports, since forewarned is to be forarmed. To succeed in this task, we must seek active collaboration with MDAs that have responsibility for environment– related matters, to enable us design appropriate messages that we should carry far and wide”, he said.
Mr. Maku called for more investment in public information organs to meet the deadline of migration in broadcasting from analogue to digital by 2015. “:Already, the DigiTeam that will oversee the crossover process has been drawn up, and it is important for stakeholders to fully apprise themselves of the milestone requirements ahead of 2015,” he stated.
In her remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information, Mrs. Kehinde Ajoni said the 43rd National Council on Information with the theme “Information Management for Good Governance and National Transformation” is an indication of the government’s commitment to promoting good governance with special emphasis on development issues as the rule of law, transparency and accountability, welfare of the people, responsiveness, participatory and purposeful leadership.
She said there is no doubt that the deployment of robust communication strategies for effective publicity at all tiers of government is an imperative for the successful implementation of the Transformation Agenda and the National Vision 20: 2020.