The FCT National Orientation Agency has solicited collaboration with the Nigeria Union of Journalists, FCT Council to promote transparency in governance through the Freedom of Information ACT.
Chinwe Ikaraoha, Deputy Director, Special Duties, said during an advocacy visit to the NUJ FCT council.
Ikaraoha said the agency was on an advocacy visit to the NUJ FCT council to promote transparency, accountability and stewardship in governance through the understanding of the FOI ACT.
She said: “We want people to understand the FOI ACT and used it to promote transparency in governance as well as understand the responsibilities of the citizens.
“We need to ask questions and get proper answers from the relevant government institutions and organisations and any other private organisation that is being financed with government fund.
“We are aware of some of the challenges but we know that Nigeria is a working project and with God on our side, we will get to the expected destination.”
Ikaraoha said the FOI Act has been translated into 23 indigenous Nigerian languages.
She added: “We have also simplified the FOI ACT to what we call ‘things you need to know.’
“This is so that a lay man looking at it will just know the act in brief.
“It’s a summary of the FOI ACT.
“Earlier we called it 23 reasons of the freedom of information.”
Responding, the Chairman of NUJ FCT Council, Comrade Emmanuel Ogbeche, appreciated NOA for championing the cause of transparency in governance.
Ogbeche said: “I appreciate the fact that NOA is at the forefront of promoting transparency and accountability in governance.
“I think the first request we will make is that we need hard copies, though we have access to soft copies online.
“I think it will do well if we have hard copies of the FOI ACT so that we can present to people to reiterate the fact that there is a document to check transparency.
“This document was passed in 2011 and it is a decade now since it was passed.
“It may interest you to know that here at the FCT, we hold religiously the issue of accountability and transparency.
“And for that reason, we have used the ACT to write to government institutions and private institutions that are funded by the public demanding explanations of certain expenditures.”
Ogbeche said the council had quarried some irregularities notice in Ministries of Mine and Steel, Education and Health but was yet to get any reply.
He added: As we speak, none of those agencies has responded to our queries.
“So we are pleased that NOA has undertaken this decision.
“The NUJ FCT is more than willing to partner with you.
“We have the personnel and capacity if you will give us the guarantee to pass our document to appropriate agencies.
“You and I know what corruption has caused to this country.
“For every N1 million that is stolen, that means two boreholes have been denied a community.
“For every N5 million that has been stolen, one primary health centre has been denied a community.
“And if you look at the health and maternal statistics in this country, it should worry every one of us.
“Why do we have more than 13 million children out of school?
“It boils down to corruption.
“And I think that this advocacy shouldn’t end here.”
The NUJ FCT chairman advised NOA to take the campaign to relevant agencies especially those that have to do with education, water and health as well as the Federal Ministry of works.
Ogbeche said: “These are very critical segments that we cannot allow them run riots and deprive our people the benefits of good governance.