The society cannot function well if the people do not have adequate information about the way government business is conducted, former President Goodluck Jonathan has said.
Dr. Jonathan spoke at the National Freedom of Information Awards ceremony organized by the International Press Centre (IPC) and Media Rights Agenda (MRA) in Abuja on December 10, 2021, where he was conferred with a Special Recognition Award for his substantial and lasting contribution towards the advancement of the right to information in Nigeria following his “bold and patriotic act” in signing into law the Freedom of Information Bill on May 28, 2011
In his speech read by Ms Ann Iyonu, the Executive Director of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, who received the award on his behalf, the former President commended IPC and MRA for the “initiative because access to reliable information is important for the growth of our society, considering the times we are in, today.”
According to him, “When citizens are well informed, they will not fall victim of the dangers of the growing spread of the fake news industry in our society, which is often driven by speculation and conjectures, arising out of the dearth of accurate and reliable public information.”
Thanking the two organizations for conferring a Special Recognition Award on him, Dr. Jonathan said: “My administration enacted the FOI Act on May 28, 2011, in order not only to expand media freedom but also give Nigerians reasonable access to information on the activities of Government, for the good of society.”
He explained that “for a society to grow and for a country to develop in a sustainable manner, the people should be granted access to official information thus promoting citizen’s participation in governance.”
Dr. Jonathan noted that the world was “now in an information age”, which means that the society will not function well if the people do not have adequate information about the way government business is conducted.
He explained that “This is because if the process of governance is not reasonably opened up, some people will generate too much false information that could create problems for the society.”
Dr. Jonathan congratulated other awardees, saying he believed them to be “quite deserving of this recognition” and thanked MRA and IPC for putting the event together.
He also expressed appreciation for the Chair of the ceremony, Justice Stella Anukam of the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights in Arusha, Tanzania, “for her contributions towards the protection of the rights and freedoms of Africans.”