Elites Network for Sustainable Development, a Kwara-based civil society organisation, has questioned the silence of the Kwara State governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, over the refusal of the State’s House of Assembly to pass the Freedom of Information bill to the governor for assent.
Coordinator of ENetSuD, Dr Abdullateef Alagbonsi, raised the concern over the silence of the governor during a Zoom meeting with some CSOs in the state.
The governor had in July 2019 returned the bill to the Assembly after making an amendment to it.
The governor asked that the bill be amended from seven days to 14 days, while the N100,000 is increased to N500,000.
While commending the input of the governor, the group held that since the Assembly received it, nothing had been heard of the bill.
Alagbonsi said, “Suggesting a stiffer punishment for anyone who destroys documents or suggesting an increase in time to enable ministries, departments and agencies to comply are signs that you want the FOI to have some level of strengths to promote transparency and accountability. The first and second paragraphs of your letter made us happy.
“It is still worrisome, Your Excellency Sir, that having written the House of Assembly, the letter was read on the 23rd of July, 2019 on the plenary of the House by the Rt. Hon. Speaker, but it is still something that is surprising that when we count from July 23rd to date, that is about 11 months.
“It is worrisome that your request to the House for minor amendment of just N100,000 to N500,000, and seven days to 14 days has taken almost a year and the House has not done anything on the bill.
“We are still surprised that His Excellency has not deemed it fit to write a reminder to the House of Assembly on why the amendment has not been done.”
The group urged the governor to write the state Assembly and direct them to pass the bill, adding that if passed, it would help in tracking government’s spending and projects.
“We believe that with what we have done with tracking of Federal Government budget, we should be able to monitor how the public fund is spent in Kwara State and the local governments.
“So, my concern is just on the Freedom of Information bill, urging Your Excellency to fast-track process on the amendment of the bill,” Alagbonsi added.