PUT FOI ACT TO TEST, SOYINKA URGES JONATHAN
Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka on Thursday challenged President Goodluck Jonathan to put to test the effectiveness of the recently signed Freedom of Information (FoB) Act, by applying its provisions to the probe of the treacheries that took place during the treatment and eventual death of the former President, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.
The literary giant, who spoke at a Town Hall meeting as part of the programmes marking the 2011 Annual General Meeting of the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) held at the Muson Centre in Lagos, affirmed that, the FoI Act preaches the rights of citizens to know and have access to information about what is happening around them.
He emphasized at the meeting, tagged: 'For The Public Purpose: Deepening of The FoI Act, that President Jonathan needs to apply the provisions of the FoI Act to get to the root of the matter, urging the President to set a fresh panel now to encourage people to demand for the facts.
Soyinka fumed that after one year of the death of Yar'Adua, the committee hitherto constituted by President Jonathan could not come out with good report to assuage ill feelings generated by the incident.
According to him, 'I am aware that President Jonathan has set up a commission of inquiry into the issue, but am challenging him to use the FoI Act to investigate those involved in the deal, what documents was involved? Was any member of the Senate involved? Were the public officers involved?
'Whose signature-appear on the documents? Who are the members of security involved physically. That episode is over but knowledge is unending and so I am challenging the government of Jonathan and the public to put this Freedom of Information Act to test with the melodramatic incidence that happened in this country for more than a year.
'I have a right to know and am compelling President Jonathan to proceed with this bill by setting up the proceeding and panel that will find out what happened to the late President within this period'.
In their speeches, both the Lagos State Governor Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and his Niger State counterpart Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, they remarked that the FoI Act is a welcomed development, pointing out the governance is a matter of trust.
They both agreed that the era of hiding information from the public is over, affirming that the public has the right to have access to whatever information they need.
The Lagos helmsman threw his weight behind the position of the Attorney-General Federation (AGF), Alhaji Mohammed Adoke (SAN), over the controversy generated by domestication of FoI Act in states, noting that there is no need for the domestication of the Act since it is a federal legislation.
He particularly solicited for the understanding of his colleagues in the executive, saying the motive of the legislation is to liberate the country from various vices threatening to devour it.