In a democratic society, the public is expected to have access to information; not only on how they are gorverned, but also on anything that is of interest to the individual or group. Democracy can function effectively only when the citizens are fully informed as to how it operates, and on what principles.
Citizens need detailed and accurate data and information on the activities of government and public institutions to help them contribute meaningfully to the debate on appropriate strategies for socio-economic planning, growth and development.
People cannot play their full part in society without access to information. They cannot exercise their rights and claim their entitlements without information, nor can they participate fully in democratic processes. Perhaps, because the weight of the above truth was felt, the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) was passed into law in
However, it is disheartening that almost a decade after passage of the Act, state governments are still fond of hoarding public records. Several MDAS under various state governments are imbued with the audacity of flaunting extant laws because they rely on the numerous limitations in the judicial system to cover their backs in an affront and a deliberate attempt to fortify corruption in the public space.
Of serious concern is the way and manner in which the Sokoto State Government under the leadership of Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal is outrightly flaunting the FOI law with impunity.
Time immemorial, Governor Tambuwal has been challenging commentators to explore the avenues provided under the FOI Act in trying to seek information about his government, insisting that his administration is fully ready to attend to requests from any individual or group as enshrined in the FOI act.
Of recent is his speech during a campaign rally at Yabo Local Government a couple of days ago, while responding to a challenge posed before him by former governor and a senior stakeholder of the PDP, Alhaji Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, to come out publicly and tell sakkwatawa the true financial status of the state government as at the time he took over power in May 2015, Governor Tambuwal stated that any individual or group in the state who feels concerned can always go to relevant MDAS and request for such details as enshrined in the law. This perhaps prompted the penning down of this piece.
The bitter truth is that Governor Tambuwal was being economical with the truth, his statement was absolutely political in an attempt to garner cheap popularity and portray his administration as
It has been over a year now that we made several efforts to get information relating to the state financial status from the relevant MDAS, we have written on various occasion to the Office of the Secretary to the State Government, Accountant General of the State, Speaker of the State House of Assembly and the DG state Investment Company seeking to know the state debt profile and other financially related issues but
The bottom line here is that all Governor Tambuwal has been saying about the level of transparency in his administration are nothing but blatant lies, he's just trying to deceive the gullible few and lure them into believing his so-called government's readiness to respect the rule of law. We want the whole world to know that the globetrotting governor is not sincere enough in dealing with the state affairs, his gross irresponsibility and dereliction to duty are there for everyone to see.
Before our children are called children of liars, here are some of the documents we wrote under the FOI bill a year ago to backup our claim and if there's any counter document, let it be presented to the public domain for scrutiny. "Karya hure takai bata diya."
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Usama Dandare, a social commentator write from Sokoto.