The Transparency and Accountability in Totality Initiative (TinT) a parent organisation of FollowTaxes and Shin Kun Sheda on Wednesday reiterated why the Kaduna State Government under Governor Nasir El-Rufai should ensure passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill into law before May 29 when another leadership will take over.
In 2022, TinT in collaboration with Gatefield on the Strengthening Civil Society and Local Engagement project (SCALE) project funded by USAID and Implemented by Palladium in Nigeria launched a new project aimed at advocating and supporting both state and non-state actors toward the domestication of FOI Act in the State.
Updating the newsmen on the progress made so far on the push for the domestication of FOI in the State, FoI Project Officer, USAID-supported SCALE, Musa Sulaiman said, the call for speedy passage of the bill became necessary as a catalyst for the effective functionality of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) which the State subscribed to in 2018.
To him, the domestication of the act would give room for openness, transparency, and accountability in government and strengthen the democratic structure with the result of creating values.
“Integral part of the effort made so far is strengthening and actualising the public’s right to access information as empowered by the Freedom of Information Act at the national level which is in the process of domestication in Kaduna state.
“As a progressive State, Kaduna Government came up with the first draft in 2018 and the amended copy in 2021 which from findings is currently at the committee level in the Kaduna State House of Assembly (KSHA).
“Though it is on record that the Kaduna State government is making a concerted effort towards the domestication of this Act over the years, our prayer is that this administration cements its Legacy by domesticating the FOI to enhance transparency which is the fiber of its administration.
“The domestication of the FOI Act was part of the milestone of the OGP commitment to Access to Information in the First State Action Plan (SAP, 2018-2020), which was not achieved and not captured in the State Action Plan II.
“Civil Society Groups, individuals, and Technical Working Groups (TWG) under the auspice of the Open Government Partnership are currently working to ensure the domestication of the Bill is captured in State Action Plan III.
“We have since the start of the project made several advocacies to relevant stakeholders including state (Executive and Legislature) and non-state actors alike and sincere commitments have been made by these stakeholders to make the dream a reality.
“We are currently banking on both the Executives and Legislatures to translate their commitment into action before the end of this administration.
“The Bill, if domesticated, will enhance access to public information, protect public records on grounds of public interest and personal privacy as well as public officers who provide such information without authorisation”, he explained.
He therefore, called on the residents of the State, the State government, and members of the KSHA to fast-track the domestication of the bill as it would fulfill the components of the OGP.