I would like to ask in respect of the Right To Information (RTI) law whether or not the government want to take credit for it after two decades of crusade and pressure to have it passed. It was eventually passed.
The RTI is the only law that was passed and it implementation was suspended for one year so that we prepare for it. The year came upon us in January 2020 and we were not ready.
The offices that was supposed to set up, the body that is supposed to set it up to help the implementation of the act was still not ready.
We get a lots of excuses, now guess what, people are still having to go to court when the purpose of the law was to avoid people having to go to court and spend.
The Electoral Commission earlier this year, very shamefully denied a Member of Parliament, a representative of the people, procurement information. This is public information but the person had to go to court and the court had to compel the EC to give out the information.
We know many have made applications that are been denied. The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has just disclosed to us this week it’s ordeal with seeking public information.
It made an application to the National Communications Authority (NCA) asking for the list of radio station which has been shut down among others. And guess what happened? They are been requested to pay ¢2000 to access that basic public information.
The NCA claims it will do some research to get the information and this cost is even considerate. It is bad to say that the court has ordered as much as a ¢1000 and ¢1500 in the circumstances.
But what we need to know is that the law actually says it is not all information one must pay for the reproduction. Information that is in the public interest among others is supposed to be free of charge.
Mr. President, Information Ministry and government collectively, if you want to take credit of the RTI you need to begin to speak and tell agencies department and ministries that are acting in such bad fate in respect of honouring the basic rights of the citizen.
Speak to them. Your silence is deafening and it doesn’t help.
They are misconducting themselves by denying people information and the institution you are supposed to set up to deal with those issues is till not set up.
Please speak publicly and discourage this behaviour. Some have applied for information and they have been told all sort of stories.
This is my take, I am asking, Mr President and the government, do you want to take credit for the RTI which is the most important corruption legislation?
Samson Lardy Ayenini
August 29, 2020