Maritime journalists urged to utilize FOI Act to entrench transparency in the sector

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A founding member of the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN), Mr Emeka Okoroanyanwu, on Thursday urged reporters in the maritime industry to utilise the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act to make the sector better.

Okoroanyanwu made the appeal at the grand reception of Mr. Adeleye Ajayi, Chairman, Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ), Lagos State Council by the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) in Lagos.

He spoke on “National Development: The Challenges of and Prospects for the Proper Implementation of the Freedom of Information Act in Nigeria’s Maritime Industry.”

According to him, the FOI Act is an Act of government to make public records and information more freely available and provide for public access to public records and information.

He said it also protects public records and information to the extent and consistent with the public interest and protects personal privacy.

Okoroanyanwu who is also the Business Editor of News Express online newspaper said that this was while also protecting serving public officers from adverse consequences of disclosing certain kinds of official information without authorization and established procedures.

He said that utilising the Act would ensure transparency in the running of public institutions and enable citizens to hold government accountable in the case of breach of trust or failure to deliver public services.

“The FOI Act provides free flow of credible information about how government in the country is being run. This will enable the citizens to make informed decisions and choices.

“It makes possible credible evaluation of government policies and overall performance of government, engenders transparency and accountability in governance and helps to eliminate corruption, underdevelopment and political instability,” he said.

The Business Editor challenged journalists to utilise the Act to bring to light some issues that were not being revealed to the public in some Ministries and Departments.

He said that the right to information promotes citizens participation and an informed populace, and can help to combat corruption, while promoting efficient governance.

Earlier in his welcome address, the President, Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN), Anya Njoku observed that the event was organized in honour of a former President of the association and current Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State Council, Mr. Adeleye Ajayi who he described as a leader, peace maker and “a father who cared for us all.”

While describing the victory of Mr. Ajayi at the poll as a hard won, deserving and a sweet victory, he however assured the gathering that the NUJ Lagos State Council Chairman would not let the Council down.

“In the Nigerian maritime industry, it is our victory because issue concerning maritime industry will now be put at the front burner at the union. When we meet during our monthly congress, maritime issues will be discussed.

“Let me inform us again that because of Mr. Ajayi’s position today, I, Anya Njoku as MARAN President today count myself as one of the happiest people on earth and this has happened during my reign as MARAN President. I am also happy that the event of the day has equally led to the coming together of the former Presidents of MARAN.

“I request you all to join me in celebrating my former president who is a leader, a peace maker; above all, he is a father. Throughout his reign in MARAN; he never held any meeting with anybody, he never suspended anybody, he cared for all of us and if he offends you, he will say sorry. He is an easy going person. So, I want all of us to join MARAN in celebrating Mr. Leye Ajayi”, he stated.

Ajayi, in his response, said that he felt happy with the reception accorded him.

He said that he put in more than 10 years in the industry as a News Agency of Nigeria reporter, editor and controller.

“It is good to be committed and determined when one is placed on a beat and to put in his or her best. I am happy that MARAN is honouring me, there are so many people to be honoured, but I have been singled out for this great privilege.

“This is not just for me having been the NUJ chairman, but also for my great achievements in MARAN. My message is for the president to put more effort in training members for them to be better in future and be able to get even foreign jobs,” he said.

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