Alhaji Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed says effective record keeping, is vital in promoting the rule of law and fight against corruption.

Mohammed stated this in his address at the 2017 convention of Nigerian society of Archivists (SNA) on Thursday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme for the convention is “The role of Records and Archives in Good Government”.

Mohammed said that the theme for the convention was not only germane to the organisers as information managers but relevant to the country, in its quest for good governance.

“Good governance plays an important role in the development process and requires the highest standards of integrity, accountability and transparency.

“These are qualities that we need as a nation and this is what President Muhammadu Buhari has been trying to enthrone since he came to power.

“But corruption has been a key hindrance in the attainment of these lofty goals.

“Corruption has many facets such as money laundering, bribery, embezzlement and unexecuted contracts; in our context here, corruption is the destruction or falsification of records, ” he said.

The minister explained that Buhari’s administration, in its fight against corruption, relied on the instrumentality of the law to bring offenders to justice.

He added that the law in turn relied largely on evidence which is based on good record keeping.

“These records consist of any medium, including paper, film, photographs, sound recordings and increasingly electronic records.

“Thus records and the evidence they contained are the instruments by which government can promote a climate of trust and demonstrates an overall commitment of good governance,” he said.

NAN reports that the minister was represented at the event by Mr Olufela Oshunbiyi, Director of Public Communications and National Orientation at the ministry.

Speaking earlier, the Director of National Archives of Nigeria, Malam Abdulyekin Umar said the last convention of the SNA was held in Jos many Years ago.

According to him, with time, meetings and events of the society were no longer as active as they ought to be.

“Some of us felt that this was something unusual and that steps needed to be taken to reverse it.

“As a follow up, we held meetings, set up committee and sub-committees to ensure we bring back to life active years of the society.

“The various committees worked on various strategies to ensure that this happens and it has happened today,” Umar said.

The directors expressed gratitude to some members of the society that passed away in the course of the struggle to resuscitate the society.

He added that it was his wished and prayers for SNA to take its rightful position in the West African Regional Branch of International Council on Archives (WARBICA) and International Council on Archives (ICA)

Prof Gabriel Alegbeleye, the President of SNA and lecturer at the Babcock University, Ilisha, Remo, Ogun State in his own remark said the SNA was established in 1983 and waxed stronger for few years.

“Years later, the society experienced some setbacks as a result of lack of commitment from members; thus, there was the need to expand membership base to accommodate people from outside the archives.

“In 2010 convention, many people attended, meetings were held and objectives were set; we have achieved a lot in our endeavour.

“SNA has a link with ICA and WARBICA; there is hope in promoting record keeping in Nigeria to meet the international best practice.

“I appeal to all members to put aside differences facing the society and capitalise on our strength and opportunities to overcome our weaknesses and move forward,” Alegbeleye said.

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The chairman of the occasion, Brig-Gen Charlae Adisa Bossman, Director, Nigerian Army Archives, Ikeja Military cantonment, Lagos said lack of records was a minus in the history of a nation.

He admonished the society to reach out to corporate organisations, National Assembly and other relevant stakeholders to emphasise the need for appropriate record keeping.

“By doing that, the government at all levels and other stakeholders would come to realised the necessity and instrumentality of record keeping.”

A legal icon, Mr Femi Falana (SAN) represented by Mr Samuel Ogala in his paper presentation titled “Corruption and Security Challenges in Nigeria: a place of Archives,” said lack of reports keeping by the police has affected many cases in courts

“Code of Conduct Bureau is among the government agency that does not grant access to information especially when top government officials are involved.

“I went to USA some time ago to get a certified copy of a judgement that was passed about 15 years ago; I got it in just 30 minutes, but in Nigeria, one may not even get it.

“Nigeria is still operating in the Stone Age management of record keeping; there is need to change that.

“It is your responsibility as information managers to ensure that your records are not compromise; the administration of President Buhari is keen in record keeping; it is your duty to bridge the gap,” Falana said.