By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
Kaduna State Anti-corruption Network, has urged the Honourable Speaker, Kaduna State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Yusuf Ibrahim Zailani, to facilitate procedures that would lead to speedy passage of the Freedom of Information, (FOI) Bill into law before May 29, 2023.
A member of the Anti-corruption Network, from Coalition of Associations for Leadership Peace Empowerment and Development, (CALPED) Mr. Yusuf Goje made the appeal during a one-day advocacy dialogue on community-led anti-corruption and accountability programme, held in Kaduna on Saturday.
Speaking on the theme, “Strengthening Social Accountability Through Improving Access to Information,” Goje said the bill passage will enable citizens demand for important information about their community and the state at large.
While commending Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s led administration since 2015, on open governance policy (OGP), Goje lamented that citizens are denied a lot of sensitive information due to the limitations posed on them by the yet to be passed FOI bill into law.
Goje disclosed that over the past two to three years, the network has sent close to a hundred letters requesting for different levels of information, but a lot of them were totally ignored, adding that domestication of the bill will help fast track to get such important information for Kaduna residents.
He said, “Over the past years, Civil Society Groups and even the state government have been working around passing the FOI bill for Kaduna state which we already have an Act at the Federal level.
“So what we want is to see how we can domesticate the bill at the state level so that it will provide a legal backing for citizens to be able to demand for those information that would enable them effectively track, monitor and report on how procurements and contracts are being carried out in Kaduna state.
“So far, the state government has done well in proactively disclosing certain information. Budgets are available including that of the auditor general report available online and quarterly budget performance reports are available, laws and all these information and we commend the government for that but that in itself is not enough for citizens to be able to use this information to really track, monitor or report any instances of corruption.
“There are other forms of information that are more detailed that citizens want to also have access to so when governornment does not make such information available, the law will now back citizens to be able to legitimately make those request and get those information.
In his remarks, the Programme Manager, Kaduna Anti-corruption Network, Seth Luke, said Aminu Kano Centre for Democratic Studies, (Mambayya house) and MacArthur foundation have been implementing MacArthur project and they have been working with partners across to see how they can promote community led anti-corruption initiatives.
Luke reiterated that MacArthur have been of good support to them in Kaduna by working with a number of partners to be able to see that they do not only create awareness around anti-corruption related programs but to also mobilize community stakeholders, through pursuing social accountability, haven discovered that monies are usually diverted through public procurements.
He added that communities have a critical role to play in checkmating corrupt activities when contracts are being carried out, urged the State Assembly to pass the bill before the expiration of their tenure so that subsequent governornment can be made open to the citizenry.
Also, speaking with newsmen shortly after the event, the Program Manager, MacArthur led project, Mambayya house, Dr. Samaila Suleiman, said they have been able to checkmate corruption using the various means at their disposal.
Samaila also added that the government of the day has fare better in the course of fighting corruption, while calling on citizens of Kaduna state to shun every form of corrupt practices in their daily living, even as the fight against corruption is not solely the responsibility of government but a collective effort.