Transparency and accountability in governance has become a contending issue of global concerns and discourse. The rights of the people to choose who governs them should also include the right of the people to ensure that those who rule them equally exhibit a high degree of openness and accountability as expected in the modern democratic governance. To this end, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) Lagos Directorate on Monday the 17th of December, 2018 held a one day sensitization programme on the need to promote transparency and accountability in governance using the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and Open Government Partnership (OGP) Principles, at the Ikeja Local Government Hall.
Setting the tone of the discourse, the NOA Director, Mr. Waheed Ishola in his keynote address noted that the FOI Act 2011, as a formidable legal instrument which empowers and encourages citizen’s engagement, has not enjoyed much of wider publicity as expected in the promotion of openness and accountability in governance until the recent times. He urged every segment of the society to appropriately key into it as part of citizens’ engagement. NOA, he said had painstakingly developed and adopted a Permanent Dialogue Mechanism which seeks to enhance a careful implementation using the formidable platforms:
- Local Government Assembly
- Civil Society Organisations and Media Roundtable
- Town Hall Meetings and
- Peace and Security Platform.
Furthermore, the Director noted that the adoption of such open initiatives as the Whistle blower policy and asset declaration of key political office holders in Nigeria by the current administration, are part of measures to further demonstrate the willingness in the domestication of the Open Government Partnership Principles. He tasked community leaders and CSOs to take interest in budget and tracking of projects and infrastructures in their community as a way of seeking transparency from elected political office holders.
In his papers, the Guest Speaker, Barrister Anthony Iwowo representing Barrister Monday Onyekachi Ubani emphasized that promoting openness and accountability in governance, the FOI Act demands that citizens are free to seek for explanation on the activities of the government just as the government must be seen to be fighting corruption. It empowers the citizens to demand where necessary, the ways and manners the affairs of the government including agencies of government is being managed by those entrusted with the power.
Barrister Iwowo noted that the level at which government information and records are readily available to the citizens, the more transparent and accountable such a government becomes. He enjoined citizens to seriously key into the FOI Act as a way to demand for good governance.
Backing the programme, the Secretary, Council of Traditional Rulers, Chief Famakinwa commended NOA for the programme. He noted that it was apt and very necessary especially now that the country will be going into another general election to elect their leaders. He therefore requested for the re-distribution of the FOI Act to the various communities in the state.
In attendance were: Representative of the Local Government Chairman and Secretary to the Council, Hon. Hakeem Daudu; Leader of the House, Hon. Adebowale A. Adetoro; Baale of Agidingbe, Chief Ganiyu Aruna; Members of Community Development Council (CDC); Legislators; Civil Society Organisations (CSO); Civil Defence Corps; Market men and women; Youth Group, NYSC; and Traditional Rulers amongst others.