The Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has called on the National Assembly to hasten the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill.
Governor Amaechi who made the call as a Special Guest of Honour at the Forth Edition of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism Award for investigative reporting spoke on the topic, Protest Literature: The Soyinka Phenomenon in Nigerian Politics.
According to the Rivers State Chief Executive, no democracy ever thrives in the absence of freedom of expression through the ballot box and on the policies and programmes of government.
Governor Amaechi who was represented at the event by Dr. Onyemaechi Udumukwu of the English Department of the University of Port Harcourt, said that the Freedom of Information Bill if properly legislated and passed into law was capable of turning around the democratic fortunes of the nation.
He noted that the nascent Nigerian democratic experience would not achieve set objectives if freedom of expression is only limited to members of the political class.
On the award, the Governor commended Wole Soyinka on his vision of openness and due process which characterize the choice of award recipients for the annual award, adding that it is in line with the vision of his administration.
He enjoined journalists in the State to go beyond surface reporting and conduct investigation on vital issues if they are to efficiently play their role as watchdogs of the society.
It would be recalled that the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting was set up in 2005 as Wole Soyinka Investigative Reporting Award (WSIRA) to reward best practices in Investigative Reporting and to promote respect for human rights and anti-corruption as substantive values in the development of the nation’s democracy.
The highlight of the occasion was the presentation of award to Alh. Nuhu Ribadu and Lifetime Award for Journalistic Excellence to Dr. Christopher Kayode amongst others.