The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has lamented the inability of Nigerians to utilise the Freedom of Information Act since it was passed into law four years ago.
A statement issued by the Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs to the Speaker, Mr. Turaki Hassan, on Sunday, said Dogara spoke when he received in audience the head of the African Commission on Human and People?s Right Mrs. Tlakula Pansy, and the Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Prof Adedeji Adekunle in his office.
The Speaker regretted that four years since the FOI was enacted, Nigerians were yet to apply it to push for open governance.
Dogara, maintained that the responsibility of creating awareness on laws passed by the parliament lies with governments, civil societies and citizens alike.
The Speaker decried the fact that Nigerians were not fully engaged in studying their laws and called for advocacy so people can know and then be able to enforce their rights.
He reiterated the commitment of the 8th Assembly to openness in governance as part of social contract between the government and the governed.
The Speaker promised that the House Committee on human rights will work closely with such bodies to ensure that all areas not covered in the existing laws are addressed.
However, Dogara argued that while Nigeria was addressing the concern by the international community on the human rights of those caught in conflict in the North East, the right to life should not be sacrificed on the altar human rights.
?In democracy, even freedom has to be constrained to ensure they do not hinder the freedom of others,? he stated.
The Speaker also disclosed that the National Assembly was working on establishing its own Television and Radio stations dedicated to the working of Parliament.
He said it was necessary to establish those stations because public media had become too restricted and expensive for the parliament.
On her part, Mrs. Tlakula Pansy, said they visited the Speaker to further push for the freedom of expression and rights of human beings the world over.
She said there was jubilation when Nigeria adopted the freedom of information Act and hoped the implementation of the Act doesn?t pose a daunting challenge.
?There has to be paradigm shift from the culture of secrecy in governance to one of truth and openness because it is the public trust and information held by government for the people, as well as to ensure that public Institutions comply with the FOI,? she said.
According to her, there was the need to embark on advocacy for the repeal of some laws inherited from the colonialists as they do not conform to the African charter for the benefit of the people of the continent.