By Itoro Bassey
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Akwa Ibom State Council, has called upon the state House of Assembly to take action and bring the Freedom of Information Act into effect within the state.Comrade Amos Etuk, the Chairman of NUJ, made this plea on Thursday when he led members of the State Working Committee (SWC) of the union on a courtesy visit to the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr Udeme Otong.
The Freedom of Information Act 2011 gives everyone the right to request information, whether or not contained in any written form, which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution howsoever described.According to Comrade Etuk, the media community’s dedication to reporting on the government’s activities showcases their commitment to the welfare of the people and the promotion of democracy.
Etuk emphasized that domesticating the FoI Act would greatly benefit journalists in accessing information effortlessly and would hold public officials accountable to the people they serveExpressing disappointment that only 16 states in the country have implemented the FoI Act, the NUJ chairman encouraged other state governments to follow suit.
He stressed that domesticating the act would help the government ensure good governance for the people.
Etuk stated, “One crucial factor remains, and that is the domestication of the Freedom of Information Act. It is our appeal that, under your leadership, you make history by bringing the Freedom of Information Act into effect.
“By granting journalists easy access to information, the government can be held responsible for their actions, ultimately leading to good governance and the fulfillment of the people’s needs”.
Etuk assured the Speaker and the people of Akwa Ibom that the media community in the state would continue to work as a strategic partner by reporting on the government and its activities to enhance good governance and delivery of democracy’s dividends to the people.
He also applauded the Speaker on the appointment of Comrade Emmanuel Ebong as his press secretary, saying that he (Ebong) is highly deserving of the honour given his extensive experience, track record, and expertise in the field of journalism.
In his response, Speaker Udeme Otong assured that the 8th Assembly, under his leadership, would maintain a harmonious working relationship with the media community in the state.
Otong reiterated the assembly’s commitment to improving the welfare of members of the assembly press corps through regular training and the provision of necessary working tools to enhance their performance.