Out of a hundred Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) only 60 submitted compliance report required of them by the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) last year, according to reports.
Chairman, governing board of the Freedom of Information Coalition in Nigeria (FOICN), Walter Duru on Wednesday said this during a 2 day round table on MDA’s compliance with the FOI act organized by Justice For All in collaboration with Media Initiative Against Injustice, Violence and corruption (MIIVOC), Freedom of Information Coalition in Nigeria (FOICN), Ministry of Justice and the Office of Head of Civil Service in Abuja.
Duru said the compliance of the FOI act has been abysmal since the passage of the act in 2011.
He said since 2014, “out of the several hundreds of the MDA, only 60 of them complied with the provision of the act that is required that they annually submit their compliance report to the office. It means that there is unthinkably, a very low compliance change with the provisions of the act and this is what we want to check”.
He added that most Nigerians are ignorant to the fact that they can utilize the Act, stating that some of them are not even conscious of the fact that the Act protects them from any form of harassment asides from the official usage of it”.
Duru also said the FOI Act has made it easier for Nigerians to access public information without any form of interference adding that the essence of the event was to engage public institutions and companies to not just collaborate but to give those seeking these information protection in an event any of them is being harassed as a result of discharging his duties as provided by the act.
Also speaking, an Anti-corruption professor, Des Wilson who commented on donor role on FOI Implementation in Nigeria said the present administration has it as a responsibility to ensure that the Public service comply to the act.
He said the government must live up to its mantra which is about change, starting from the corruption practices of the past to new ways of doing business in governance.
Professor Wilson said for the federal government to embrace the FOI Act, it should ensure that in all the MDAs there are vanguards, committees or monitors designated to finding out whether the MDAs are still doing business as usual by hiding files or are complying with the act.
“We know about messengers, clerks that hide files in the ministries. Are those practices still on? We also need to do research if there has been noticeable change in the practice of those in government; we need to enlighten them more with proper orientation through training for the proper operations of the law,” he said.
If you are happy to be contacted by a Daily Trust journalist please leave a telephone
number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will
be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state
otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures,
video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others,
take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the
terms and conditions.