Former President Goodluck Jonathan has said that Nigerians need to be adequately informed about the conduct of government business in order for the society to function properly.
He stated this at the Freedom of Information (FOI) Award ceremony organised by the International Press Centre (IPC) in collaboration with the Media Right Agenda(MRA) under Component 4b: Support to the media of the EU Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) Project which held Friday at the Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, to mark the 10th anniversary of FOI Act in Nigeria.
It also coincided with the 2021 International Human Rights Day.
The event was organised to recognise and honour individuals, organisations and public institutions that are promoting the rights to information in Nigeria and facilitating the implementation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act which has helped in providing Nigerians their right to access information on matters of public concern.
The executive director, International Press Centre (IPC), Mr Lanre Arogundade, opened the award ceremony with a recap of the historical struggles that led to the signing of the FOI Act into law by the administration of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on May 28, 2011.
Arogundade commended the vision and enormous sacrifice of all those who played active roles in the 12-year struggle including the leadership of the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ), the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and the Newspaper Proprietors of Nigeria (NPAN) over the period.
He said:”We cannot take for granted the immense support of the media organisations and individual journalists who contributed in no small measure towards bringing FOI Act into reality.
“We believe many of them will be in the league of those to be honoured at subsequent outings.”
The chairperson of the ceremony, Justice Stella Anukam, Judge of the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights, Arusha, Tanzania in her remarks said that the occasion was organised to recognise and honour those who have made various contributions to the emergence of the FOI Act and are playing significant role in making the exercise and enjoyment of the right to information meaningful to Nigerians.
She said the enjoyment of human rights should include the right to information because human rights will be better enhanced when people are aware of their rights and can exercise them.
She also remarked that before her current appointment, she had served as the head of the FOI unit at the Federal Ministry of Justice which according to her, is the engine room for the FOI Act in Nigeria.
Former President Jonathan, one of the recipients of Special Recognition Award, who was represented by the executive director, Goodluck Jonathan’s Foundation, Ms Ann Iyonu, thanked the management of the Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and the International Press Centre (IPC) for the honor of being part of the maiden Freedom of Information Awards ceremony.
The former president appreciated the chairperson of the event, Justice Stella Anukam, for her contributions towards the protection of the Rights and Freedom of Africans and also commended the organisers of the event for the initiative.
He said when the citizens are well informed, they will not fall victim to the dangers of the growing spread of the fake news industry in our society, which is often driven by speculation and conjectures, arising out of the dearth of accurate and reliable public information.
Dr Jonathan thanked the organisers for conferring a Special Recognition Award on him “for what they said is in recognition of my humble contributions towards advancing the right to information in Nigeria”.
“Their specific reason is because I signed the Freedom of Information Bill into Law in 2011. My administration enacted the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on May 28, 2011, in order to expand media freedom and give the citizens reasonable access to information on the activities of government, for the good of society,” he said.