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Jonathan, Fayemi Ayogu Eze, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Journalists, Other Prominent Nigerians Bag FOI Awards in Abuja
National News News Personality Recognition

Jonathan, Fayemi Ayogu Eze, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Journalists, Other Prominent Nigerians Bag FOI Awards in Abuja

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Key stakeholders in the struggle for the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 in Nigeria, including former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who signed the Bill into Law in May 2011, Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of the Governor’s Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, former Senate Majority Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information, Senator Ayogu Eze, former member of the House of Representatives and currently Chair of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa; former member of the House of Representatives and former Ambassador to Austria, Ambassador Jerry Ugokwe; and former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, Dr. Sam Amadi, among others have been honoured with the National Freedom of Information (FOI) Awards at its maiden edition held in Abuja on Thursday.

The event, which was organised by the International Press Centre (IPC) and Media Rights Agenda (MRA), was chaired by Justice Stella Anukam, a judge of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Arusha, Tanzania.

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In his Welcome address, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, IPC’s Executive Director, on behalf of the organisers, congratulated all the award winners, hoping that the gesture “will encourage state institutions to do better in proactively disclosing information, and heeding FOI requests. We also expect this to spur the citizens, especially journalists and civil society activists to utilise the FOI Act the more.

“Our apologies to those deserving of being honoured but may have been left out of this edition. This is just the beginning, and in future there will be many more recognitions and you will be on the list.

“We thank the European Union for making this awards ceremony possible through the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) project”, he said.

The chairperson of the event, Justice Stella Anukam, in her opening address thanked the organisers for the invitation extended to her.

She noted that she finds the “theme of the essay competition that is part of this 10th year anniversary commemoration, namely: “Deepening Democracy, the Impact of FOI Act 10 Years After” to be very appropriate.

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“I strongly believe that this is a good time, after 10 years of implementation, to take stock and examine the impact that the FOI Act has had in bringing about transparent and accountable governance as well as in enhancing participatory democracy in Nigeria.

“As we celebrate today and reflect on the journey that resulted in the passage of the FOI Act in 2011 and the 10 years of its implementation, we should also take the opportunity to examine some of the implementation challenges that have continued to impede the effectiveness of the Law and the full enjoyment of the right to information by Nigerians.

“We should therefore see today as a milestone in the journey to create an enlightened and informed society and think of the steps that we still need to take to get to our desired destination”, she observed.

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Represented by the Executive Director of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, Ms. Ann Iyonu, Dr. Jonathan thanked the management of the Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and the International Press Centre (IPC) for inviting him to the maiden Freedom of Information Awards ceremony.

He added “I commend the organisers of the event for this initiative because access to reliable information is important for the growth of our society, considering the times we are in, today.

“When citizens are well informed, they will not fall victim of the dangers of the growing spread of the fake news industry in our society, which is often driven by speculation and conjectures, arising out of the dearth of accurate and reliable public information.

“I also thank the organisers for conferring a Special Recognition Award on me, for what they said is in recognition of my humble contributions towards advancing the right to information in Nigeria”, he said.

Comrade James Ezema is a veteran journalist and media consultant. He is a political strategist. He can be reached on +2348035823617 via call or WhatsApp.

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