Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

The Nigeria Freedom of Information Law: Progress, Implementation Challenges and Prospects

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

The Nigeria Freedom of Information Law: Progress, Implementation Challenges and Prospects

Article excerpt

Introduction

Information is the stimulus of all the thoughts and actions of living creatures. Information, in its various forms is the prerequisite for the functioning of modern society because success in every area of industry is attributed to the intelligent use of information of the appropriate types. McCreadie and Rice (1999) express that, the vacuum that is ignorance and prejudice needs to be filled with reliable information, insofar as it is possible to provide it. Moreover, information is clearly a commodity that can be generated and manipulated to produce more information and high quality information resource is a prerequisite in the drive for decision making. Hence, countries are implementing strategies and policies that enable them take advantage of the opportunities that are offered by the use of information. Among the strategies are: creating information and communication infrastructure that enables information to flow efficiently and cheaply among their citizens and organizations; developing education and training so that there is a ready supply of appropriately skilled people; supporting the development of the ICT and information content products and services sector to meet the growing demand for information.

Efficient flow, access to, and the use of information have become crucial factors in determining the economic strength of nations. Davis and Davidson (1991) state that nations would prosper or falter depending on their investment in building an information infrastructure and since human knowledge improvement presupposes information flow and sharing, the collective intellectual abilities of a nation, its human capital, will also depend on access to information (Crawford, 1991). Kuunifaa (2011) state that access to information and transparency of governance is essential to ensuring accountability and prevents corruption. Access to information and participation in a democratic society are also mutually dependent. According to Glenn (1990), information can be construed to be the "blood and oxygen" of a democratic society. Whether formalised in a constitution or understood tacitly in the minds of citizens, democracy assumes a basic consensus about its purpose and the nature of its citizenry. In a democratic society, the public is expected to have access to information not only on how they are governed, but also on anything that is of interest to the individual or group. Democracy can only function effectively only when the citizens are fully informed as to how it operates and on what principles. Democracy is a two-way flow of information between the government and the governed and even though in theory the people govern, in practice, representatives of the governed make decisions. Birkinshaw (2010) point one characteristic of democracy which is the participatory nature of the political process, where the citizen has a right to know and access relevant information and also have their privacy protected.

The provision of information is a key element in citizenship. Citizens need detailed and accurate data and information on the activities of the government 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. It is in this context that Doctor (1992) opines that improved access to information fuels some of the changes the society is experiencing from information-economy to "information democracy", which he defined as a socio-political system in which all people are guaranteed the right to benefit from access to information resources.

Right to information, and particularly the right of access to information held by public authorities, has attracted a great deal of attention all over the world. The right of citizens to have access to information acquired by public agencies is founded in the ideal political principle that government should be of the people, by the people, and for the people. …

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