Expert Urges Maritime Reporters To Utilise FOI Act

A maritime industry stakeholder; Mr Emeka Okoroanyanwu, on Thursday urged reporters in the maritime industry to utilise the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to make the sector better.

Okoroanyanwu made the appeal at the hosting of Mr Adeleye Ajayi, Chairman, Nigerian Union of Journalist, 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 FOIA 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 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 maritime journalists 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.

In his goodwill message, Mr Sesan Onileimo, a former president of MARAN, said that when the maritime association was one body, it well respected, and called for uniformity.

Mr Valentino Buoro, also a former president, called for training and retraining of members and the need to have an inward reflection of what the association should be.

Also contributing, Mr Ray Ugochukwu, described Ajayi as a straightforward person and a go-getter, saying he deserved the reception.

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.