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The National Association of Seadogs (NAS), Jolly Rogers Deck, has called on state governments to see to the domestication of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act in the interest of transparency and accountability in public governance.
The association said the call became expedient bearing in mind its observation that 16 states were yet to domesticate the FOI Act.
Leader, NAS, Jolly Rogers Deck, Mr Olufemi Adesope, made this call during an event to mark this year’s World Press Freedom Day.
Adesope said it was only pretense declaring that an FOI Act existed, noting that the situation remained that of the governors being the ones with the powers to give approval for the release of information to the public.
He noted that the non-implementation of the FOI Act in states continued to fuel disinformation and misinformation which had a serious impact on the institutions underpinning democracy, the rule of law and human rights.
Despite what he described as substantial progress towards achieving a free press, he noted that non-implementation of the FOI Act in some states continued to threaten media freedom, safety of journalists and freedom of expression.
Adesope said: “In Nigeria, the Freedom of Information Act was enacted on 28th May, 2011 under the President Goodluck Jonathan regime.
“From May, 2011 till May 2023, we have seen more attacks on press freedom; despite the enactment of the FOI Act, Nigerian journalists are still victims of State repression.
“About 16 states are yet to domesticate the FOI Act and as such lack transparency, and accountability in public governance.
It is totally inappropriate for us to pretend we have a functional FOI Act especially in a situation where only governors have the powers to give approval for the release of information to the public who pay with their taxes and pay their salaries.
“Therefore, we in the NAS/PC, are advocating for transparency and accountability in all levels of governance across board. And for this to be effective, the FOI Act must be implemented across states without glitches and without suppression of information nor attack on the personality of any press house.
“The proliferation of independent media in many countries and the rise of digital technologies, most significantly is the social media, have enabled the free flow of information.
“However, media freedom, safety of journalists and freedom of expression are increasingly under attack, which impacts the fulfillment of other human rights.
“Nigeria and the world at large face multiple crises: conflicts and violence, persistent socio-economic inequalities driving migration, environmental crises and challenges to the health and wellbeing of people.
“At the same time, disinformation and misinformation online and offline proliferate, with serious impact on the institutions underpinning democracy, the rule of law and human rights.”