The VIce President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has disclosed that access to information and data is the right of citizens and not a privilege, stating that any institutional effort to deprive citizens of this right would constitute a serious impediment to good governance and development.
Speaking at a forum organized by the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency on the role of data standards and international initiatives in mobilizing and monitoring financing for development commitments, on the sidelines at the ongoing Third International Conference on Financing for Development today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Vice President observed that with the right political will, governments can ensure that citizens’ rights of access to data and information is upheld with appropriate sanction where it is denied.
Prof. Osinbajo gave introductory remarks alongside the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, and current UNDP Administrator, Ms. Helen Clark. Afterwards other distinguished panelists including ministers from Belgium and Bangladesh spoke at the forum to appraise the importance of openness of information in the mobilization of resources for development.
The Vice President noted that such a culture of openness is a basic prerequisite for governments to achieve transparency and accountability in governance.
He informed stakeholders of efforts by the government of Nigeria to foster the culture of open data through mechanisms such as the National Extractive Industries and Transparency Initiative (NEITI) project and the Freedom of Information Act. He averred that both have contributed greatly in promoting openness and accountability thereby removing secrecy from vital sectors of the nation’s economy particularly in the petroleum sector of the oil and gas industry and government business in general.
The Vice President lauded the achievements recorded so far in this direction observing that the progress underscore citizenship participation in governance. But he was quick to add that the current regime of access to information needs to be expanded and issues such as quality of information and data available must be addressed.
Commending the Openness Initiative, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo opined that with the entrenchment of the open data and information flow, the goal of sustainable development can be easily achieved. He thus pledged the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration towards promoting this culture stating that it can go a long way in fostering the much desired objectives of good governance and virile development.
Mr. Olusola Abiola For: Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President Media and Publicity