Mr Balarabe Jigo, Senior Special Assistant to Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State on Legal Matters, says the governor is committed to ensuring the domestication of Freedom of Information Act (FOI) in the state.
Jigo stated this in Kaduna on Monday, at a stakeholders’ interactive meeting on the domestication of FOI Act in Kaduna State.
The meeting was organised by Transparency and Accountability in Totality Initiative (TinT)-Follow Taxes.
He said that “A Bill for a Law to Make Public Records and Information Available and to Protect Records Information, Personal Privacy and Serving Public Officers in Kaduna State” was being considered.
According to him, the Bill is currently at the discussion level with the leadership of the State House of Assembly for consideration.
“The governor is passionate about getting the bill passed and has directed me to engage critical stakeholders to ensure the bill is given the needed attention by the House of Assembly.
“I have already engaged the principal officers of the House and they have demonstrated commitment to support the process but need to work with other members to ensure smooth passage,”he said.
The governor’s aide said that a sensitisation workshop was being organised in collaboration with an NGO and the State Assembly, to enlighten the lawmakers on the benefits of the Bill in strengthening good governance in the state.
He expressed optimism that the Bill would be passed at most, two weeks after the sensitisation workshop.
Also, Mr Bashir Adamu, Secretary, House Chairman, Public Account Committee, said that the Bill was before the State Assembly and discussions were ongoing for consideration.
He clarified that the Bill had not passed first and second reading as erroneously being perceived by members of the public, but introduced to the House of Assembly awaiting consideration.
He also said that sensitisation would play a key role in fast tracking the passage of the Bill.
On his part, Director, Legal Drafting, Ministry of Justice, Mr Murtala Hamidu, said that the first draft Bill that was introduced to the House was revised to address the concerns of the members of the House.
Hamidu said that the revised version had been resubmitted to the House for reconsideration.
Earlier, Mr Musa Suleiman, Project Officer, TinT-Follow Taxes, said that the domestication of the FOI was under “#KeepItOpen”, an advocacy programme supported by Palladium.
Suleiman said that the support was through Gatefield, a public strategy and media group for chance, under the USAID-supported Strengthening Civil Society and Local Engagement (SCALE) project.
He said that the Bill had been submitted to the State Assembly since 2017, but was yet to be passed, adding that the “#KeepItOpen” was designed to mobilise relevant stakeholders to push for the passage of the Bill.
He said that TinT-Follow Taxes had conducted several advocacy visits to critical stakeholders, including the ministry of justice, the media, citizens’ groups and had reached out to the governor through his aide, Jigo.
Hajiya Jamila Dahiru, Senior Communications and Partnership Lead, TinT-Follow taxes, said that the objective of the meeting was to increase stakeholders’ support for the domestication of the FOI Act and digital rights.
Dahiru added that the meeting was also to promote operationalisation of the FOI Act in Kaduna state through advocacy activities and stakeholder engagements.
Mr Dangwa Danjuma of the Coalition Associations for Leadership Peace Empowerment and Development (CALPED), said that the non-passage of the bill was affecting the implementation of relevant laws in the state.
Danjuma said that citizens were also not consulted in the drafting of the bill in the principle of Open Government Partnership that the state signed onto and called for a window for citizens participation.
He also suggested that the lawmakers should be engaged to prioritise passage of the bill as a condition for their re-election. (NAN)