The lawmakers specifically demanded the publication of the Handover Note in the official gazette of the Federation, arguing that Nigerians have the right to know the projects, programmes, achievements and constraints of the past administration to guide them in rating the incumbent government.
The House’s decision followed a motion moved by Hon. Uzoma Nkem Abonta (PDP, Abia). It was titled “Need for Publication of the Handover Note of the Administration of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in the official gazette of the Federation”.
Leading the debate for the motion which attracted massive contributions from several lawmakers, Abonta contended that Nigerians can not continue to rely on rumours and speculations regarding things that were captured in the handover Note given to President Buhari.
Abonta’s motion read: “… on the expiration of the tenure of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on May 29, 2015, he presented a Handover Note of stewardship of his administration to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“… the Handover Note would expectedly have captured the activities, projects, programmes, achievements and constraints of the last administration, including counsel to the new administration on the way forward.”
The lawmaker continued “aware that the Handover Note is a public document and that some extant laws may place restrictions on the publication of some contents of the document.
“Realise that notwithstanding any such legal restrictions, it is apparent that only officials of the Presidency have access to the Handover Note at the moment.
“Worried that members of the National Assembly, most of whom are new to the legislative business, require authentic information to ascertain the actual state of the nation without which they may not be able to perform their legislative functions effectively”.
Based on these points Abonta urged the presidency to “publish the official gazette of the federation, save for information restricted by law, the Handover Note and the accompanying documents of the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan to enable interested Nigerians and other residents access it for information and record purposes.”
Initially the motion was seen through the lens of politics, as APC and PDP lawmakers took divergent stands on it.
Hon. Pally Iriase (APC, Edo) in his contribution urged his colleagues to reject the motion on the ground that issues raised in it were not what Nigerians were concerned about at the moment.
He asked the author of the motion or any other person interested in the Handover Note of the former President to take advantage of the Freedom of Information Bill and access it.
Iriase’s position was initially backed by Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila who, however, declared that he was in support of the motion.
Marshaling out reasons for supporting the motion, Hon. Leo Ogor (PDP, Delta) insisted that Nigerians deserve to know what the former government left in place.
(Iheanacho Nwosu, DAILY SUN)