Former President Goodluck Jonathan says Nigerians need increase access to information to enhance their wellbeing and knowledge for development of the country.
Jonathan said this shortly after being honoured with a Special Recognition Award at the 10th anniversary of the Freedom of Information Acts awards night on Friday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Jonathan was represented at the event by Ann Iyonu, the Executive Director of Goodluck Jonathan Foundation.
The 10th anniversary of FOI Act in Nigeria was organised by the International Press Centre in collaboration with the Media Rights Agenda and European Union.
Jonathan said: “I want to commend the organisers of this initiative because access to information is important to the growth of our society considering the times we are in today.
“When citizens are well informed, they will not fall victims of fake news that is spreading in our society and often driven by speculations and falsehood.
“My administration enacted the FOI act on May 28, 2011 to expand the media freedom and give people reasonable access to information on the activities of government for the good of the society.
“I believe that for a society to grow and develop, people should be granted more access to official information.
“We are now in an official age, which means the society will not function well if the people do not have adequate information on how government business is conducted.”
The former president stressed that if the process of governance was not reasonably opened up, some people would generate too much false information that would create problem for the society.
He congratulated and encouraged all the awardees who he said deserved the recognition.
In his welcome address, Lanre Arogundade, Executive Director, IPI, said the FOI Act, which was signed into law on May 28, 2011, was a vision brought into reality by Jonathan.
Arogundade said: “A decade on, I am happy to stand before you to say tremendous progress has been made, yet there are opportunities for more to be done using the FOI.
“On behalf of the International Press Centre, the Media Rights Agenda and parners of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) therefore, I welcome you all to this celebration of history.”
Arogundade expressed conviction that the 10th anniversary of FOI Act was a milestone worth celebrating.
He said the occasion was also an opportunity to take stock and strategise on improving the implementation and the usage of “this important law in the years to come.”
NAN reports that the FOI Act awards were in four categories: individual, Organisation, Public Institutions and Special Recognition.
Other recipients of FOI awards included Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, Senator Ayogu Eze, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Hon. Jerry Ugokwe and Abdul Oroh, formerly of the Civil Liberties Organisation.
Some students were also given awards under the Students FOI Essay Competition category.