Before the Freedom of Information bill [FOI] was finally signed into law, it suffered a series of setbacks totaling about 12 years at a time most developed nations were fine-tuning strategies and policies meant to enhance knowledge driven economy.
As defined, the FOI law “is an Act to make public records and information more freely available, provide for public access to public records and information, protect public records and information to be consistent with the public interest and the protection of personal privacy, protect serving public officers from adverse consequences for disclosing certain kinds of official information without authorization and establish procedures for the achievement of those purposes and; for related matters.”
Though wrongly perceived, the FOI Law is not a Journalist’s law; neither is it a media organization law but a law to get our public office holders accountable to the citizens. After this Act has been signed into law, however we have not seen its positive influence on national life. Indeed, how many Christians know what the law is all about? How many Christians have seen a copy of it? How many can really interpret the law? And how many know the meaning, let alone using it to drive the change that they desire?
Christians should be informed that our democracy is unfit if they are not fully responsive or given collective responsibility in the task of building a strong nation. Nigerians need to be informed that any of their representatives that are not performing to produce best result must be voted out in the next election. They need to be informed that grass roots development is the only normal means to national development, considering that major cities cannot be developed at the expense of rural communities. They need to be informed that they are not to celebrate national looters who corner the money meant for health centre for personal use.
Our economic, political and social justice can never be won when government and citizens do not have the relevant knowledge about the country. Again, the electorate cannot be won over through force. Severe policies that increase economic instability can only lead to mass protest, as was seen in the first week of the year when Nigerians went out en masse to protest against the absolute removal of fuel subsidy.
Social justice can only be won by free men who believe in an equal society and who have been authorized to adequately use the freedom of information to sensitize and educate the masses and thus free them from unnecessary slavery in their fatherland.