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CSO Pushes for Adoption of FOI in Akwa Ibom



Connected Development (CODE), a Civil Society Organisation, has urged the adoption of the Freedom of Information (FOI) act in Akwa Ibom State.

Mr. Ubong Ekpe, the State Lead of CODE, made the plea on Friday during an advocacy visit to the member representing Nsit Atai at the State House of Assembly, Prince Aniefiok Attah, in Uyo.

He dismissed the notion that domesticating FOI in Akwa Ibom would lead to persecution of public office holders, emphasizing that the state has missed out on numerous opportunities and privileges due to the lack of transparency in governance.

Ekpe cited the example of a $1.5 billion World Bank grant, which was only accessible to states that made their budget public and adhered to FOI principles.

He also highlighted the state’s lag in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), stating that investors are reluctant to commit to a state with opaque financial dealings and budgetary opacity.

Ekpe further emphasized that domesticating FOI would help combat corruption and enable Civil Society Organisations and citizens to monitor government contracts and track budget utilization effectively.

He encouraged lawmakers to tailor the FOI to suit the state’s context.

Ekpe stated, “We are advocating for the domestication of the FOI act passed at the Federal level in Akwa Ibom State. There seems to be a misconception that legislators feel threatened by the bill, which is completely unfounded. The benefits are substantial, such as the $1.5 billion sifter grant from the World Bank, which required sub-national governments to make their budgets accessible to the public.”

He added, “We are missing out by not embracing open government. For instance, Kaduna State attracted a $7 billion investment from a Brazilian company into their lithium deposit because of their transparency. Transparency left by former Governor Nasir Elrufai has also contributed to top-notch NGO investment in Kaduna State.”

In response, Lawmaker Prince Attah commended CODE for the proposal and pledged to present it in the House in due course.

He highlighted the significant benefits of FOI domestication and expressed confidence in the bill’s prospects in the state.

Attah remarked, “This is an excellent bill, and I will ensure its presentation in the House. Our focus is to serve the interests of our people through people-oriented legislation.”