A maritime expert, 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 (NUJ), 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 Okoroanyanwu who is Editor or the XPRESS Newspaper, the FOI is an Act of government to make public records and information more freely available and provide for public access to public records and information.
Okoroanyanwu said the law is 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 expert 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.
Also speaking, Chairman of the event, a former President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu commended Ajayi on his emergence as NUJ Lagos Chairman, describing the veteran journalist as humble and diligent.
The Customs broker lamented the multiplicity of maritime journalists beat associations, urging them to put their house in order by adopting his method while he was still president of ANLCA.
Shittu noted that ANLCA just like the maritime media equally suffered breakouts and multiplicity of associations. He said he was however able to enjoy a successful tenure due to constant training, concessions, and carrying everybody along.
Shittu urged the NUJ Chairman to bring all practicing maritime Journalists together under one umbrella body.
In his goodwill message, Mr Sesan Onileimo, a former president of MARAN, said that when the maritime Journalists association was one body, it was well respected and there was 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, another former President of MARAN, Mr Ray Ugochukwu, described Ajayi as a straightforward person and a go-getter, saying he deserved the reception.
Some maritime industry bigwigs like the President, Shippers Association Lagos State, SALS, Rev. Jonathan Nicol, former General Manager, Public Affairs, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Capt. Iheanacho Ebubeogu, among others, also graced the occasion.